Friday, November 20, 2015

I am afraid...

I know church culture.

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

I've been in the church all my life and honestly, I've noticed a common trend: The deeper we are in to church culture, the further we are away from the real world. And the further we are away from the real world, we begin to see all kinds of arrogance, cruelty, and selfishness fester and grow.

Now make no mistake, this post isn't to trash on the church, not even close, I'm saying this because I dearly love the church and I want us to see the end of this and because I willingly am stating that I am very much part of the problem.

I've seen outstanding examples of selflessness, integrity, love and devotion within the church and I know people who I would trust with my life in an instant.

However, some of the cruelest, coldest and most inward focused people I've ever known claim to be my "brothers and sisters in Christ".

It's because of this, that I am posting for the first time in years on this dusty old blog that I made so so long ago.

Because I am afraid.

When unsaved people come to me and call me an arrogant, selfish, and intolerant bigot, I see how we as Christians treat the world around us, and I can't disagree.

I see how my fellow classmates here at Moody Bible Institute treat their classmates and jockey for attention and scramble for the spotlight.

And I look in the mirror and see how I treat those around me.

And I feel so hopeless that I want to hang my head and give up.

Because I feel like Paul when he described himself as "the chief of sinners".

We are so focused on what makes us happy, what we want, and what makes us feel good instead of actually seeing the world for what it is: a broken, cold, and hurting place that's screaming for a reason to keep existing.

Because of this, we only care about what keeps our happy world stable and unruffled. Our entitlement complex is only matched by our greed for attention and applause. We think we deserve the best and when we don't get it, we pout and shake our fists at God. The modern church-goer demands that God gives us stable jobs, a perfect un-damaged spouse that will fulfill all our desires and needs, and a fan-base of "friends" that will affirm our every action.

We become cruel and demanding and we forget that we are just as sinful and disgusting as anyone else on this planet.

We are now a social club where we gossip and slander with wild abandon and we complain when the coffee is too cold. We have virtually no knowledge of how to actually reach out to someone and if anyone get's too messy or uncomfortable, we ditch them because Oprah told us to only be around people who lift us higher.

In the short 25 years that I've spent here, I've been "serving" in the church for probably 11 years of them. I've noticed that we (myself included) are so much better at criticizing each other and cutting each other down than we are at encouraging each other. We love to hate, and hate it when we have to love and we've bought the lie that God favors our happiness above anything else.

Maybe I've just lost hope, maybe I've seen too many shades of gray when church culture keeps saying that everything is black and white.

I've been on mission trips in the United States and all across the world. I've worshiped with people who's names I can't say because it could end up with them imprisoned or dead, I've worked in places that don't even have clean drinking water and I've seen kids both in the U.S. and abroad that have never been told they're loved and don't know when their next meal will come.

In short, I've seen the world and its ugliness. I've gotten the filth of it on my hands and under my fingernails and no amount of counseling or worship sessions will ever clean it off.

I've been in places where I reached the end of my rope and found that I was woefully inadequate and there was no "happy ending" like in the movies. I've hugged kids who smelled like garbage and pee because they don't have showers, and I've had mothers tell me that I was the only male in their kids lives to ever show them any attention and love. I have shed so many tears and had my heart broken hundreds of times by how screwed up this world truly is. And it's left me changed.

I can't relate to Christians who would exclude me because I can't call myself a Calvinist or an Arminian.

I can't just look at someone who is lying to me when they say "I'm fine" when I know their lives are falling apart and smile and say "okay" and walk away.

I can't piously sit on a cushion and criticize and gossip about my fellow Christians and loftily look down on those I deem spiritually pathetic.

I can't claim to have all the answers for all the worlds problems.

And I can't just cut someone down without knowing who they are just because they act in a way that shocks me.

The minute that we leave the comfortable walls of our church and go into the world, we realize that this world is not black and white. We realize that we can't be an idealist anymore. We realize that we're not up to the task that God has called us to, and only He can make it happen. Suddenly, we wake up and realize that it's not just in the mission field where we are inadequate, but everywhere.

It hurts. It cuts our ego to shreds and leaves us feeling humiliated and exposed. But we also wake up to another reality.

We wake up to the fact that we truly are helpless. That Christ alone is the only light in this world.

I can honestly say that any insult you level against me will have some truth in it. I am truly one of the most arrogant, cold, exclusive, bullish and selfish people around and I am helpless before Satan when he accuses me of these things. It's only because of Christ that I have any hope at all. It's because of The Holy Spirit that I've had any growth in my life and only because of Him can I claim any goodness.

That's why I say this: accept your inadequacy. Accept your sinfulness and offer it to God. Don't celebrate it and embrace it, but understand that you're a work in progress and that it's Gods will to grow you, not to sit there and judge you. God has done amazing things in my life and where we see a hopeless situation, He sees a miracle.

But for God's sake, stop being so arrogant. Stop being a better critic than a comforter and stop acting like you know everyone's story. In my own life, I always say "walk a mile in my shoes...or better yet, go to the people I've learned from and walk a mile in theirs, then you can tell me how wrong I am". And finally, know the dangerous road you're walking. Correction and rebuke easily can become nagging and criticism and when you walk down that path, you walk the the same steps as Job's friends who cut Job down without understanding what he was going through and ended up in a position where God wouldn't even listen to their pleas without Job interceding for them (Job 42:7-9).

None of us have anything to brag about but Christ and His sacrifice, and the best way to reach a state of humbleness is to see our own darkness and realize that it's been paid for by the blood of Jesus. 

In short, assume the best of our family in Christ, if we must correct each other, do so in love and respect and look out for each others needs before our own. It's what Christ did for us and we can't claim any better.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

On the topic of worry (notes from my most recent message)

I used to worry about so much though as a kid. I took life way too seriously. I was that kid that had no chill.

One of the things that bugged me the most was the possibility of dying in quicksand. Because you know there’s so much quicksand in the United States especially around the Chicago area.

I never worried about actual adult stuff you know, like how to build up a credit score or what to say when in laws you hate ask for money, no, but I had a contingency plan for falling into a pit of quicksand Indiana jones style alone out in the safari while being chased by mummies or zombies. 

So while worry can be funny, thinking over my quicksand scenario really got me thinking on how stupid worrying is.

I mean, I literally was afraid of something that I literally never have to worry about.

Craig Groschel describes worry as revealing what you fear the most and where you trust God the least.

I won’t lie, we as the millennial generation really do have a lot of stuff trying to get into our heads and make us worry.
Turn on the tv:
-the economy
-the presidential election
-possible wars
-diseases and cancer

Go to school
-if we should take risks in joining a team or club
-Should I ask him or her out?

Think about the future
-How we will be able to run a country when we’re in charge
-How will I get a job to support a family
-can I make it through college

And just like the other issues we’ve covered, worry is a sin and can turn into an addiction.

BUT just like all the other things we have covered, worry is not something that we are forced to do, but a matter of perspective.


Continuing on Paul’s letter to the philippians, Paul is still in house arrest and 24/7 chained to the Roman equivalent to a Terminator and he was fundamentally waiting on the decision as to whether or not he would live or die.

If anyone had a reason to worry it was him. This is the same Paul that dealt with
-deadly snakebites
-public stoning
-imprisonment on a regular basis.

And yet he was still able to write from prison:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Phil. 4:4-5”

Paul’s perspective is solid. NOTHING can separate him from God. NOTHING can take away the love of God from him and so he had NOTHING to fear.

After all this happened, instead of seeing these events as hardship, he saw them as times when the Lord provided and protected Him from even greater pain.
A relationship with God comes with the luxury of not having to worry about the “hows” in life but merely focusing on the “who’s” in our lives. God can handle the craziness of our lives, and all we have to do is trust that He is still in control.

Throughout my life I literally had no idea what I was doing for a future, once I wanted to be a musician, then I wanted to be an Army chaplain then I wanted to be a missionary and now here I am teaching all you awesome people.

What I’m saying is that if I would have trusted the lord more back then through all of that, I probably would have gotten into youth ministry sooner, yet even in my weakness, God still was directing me even when I thought everything was falling apart. Never forget, when you think everything is going insane, God is still completely in control.

One of my favorite verses of all time is found right here when Paul writes about anxiety and fear in our lives: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7”

See we as humans tend to try and trust God with things in our lives, money, relationships, our futures and whatnot, but then if things don’t happen right away, then we try to pull it back from God and take control again.

However God commands us to rest in His presence, understand that He is worthy of praise and then present our needs to God. He hears you. I promise. It might not be on the time that you want, but it’s definitely on the time that you need.

Think on having this perspective for the next week: I will do what I can do and trust God with what I can’t.

I know that life is heavy. I know that we have pain and issues in our lives that seem to dominate all our thoughts and all our effort. Yet what verse did I tell you guys at three weeks ago when I last spoke?
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27”
What about my health?
What about my relationship?
What about my broken family?
What about my broken past?
What about my future?
What about my addiction?
What about my secret sin that I can’t talk about?
What about the fact that I feel like time and time and time again I never can do anything right? What about the fact that I feel alone?
“My peace I give you”
Satan will try to overwhelm you with fear over the unknown, yet I am here telling you this truth: YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY.

Paul’s perspective CAN be our perspective too. We can look at all of the chaos of life and all the pain that it brings and still look at God and HONESTLY say “God this is the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but I trust you.”

Instead of pleading with God to meet our needs, let’s try to understand that God is all that we need.

Instead of worrying where God is taking us in the future, what if we hid in the knowledge that He holds our future?

What if we rejoiced in the fact that God is on our side and found our first satisfaction in Him?

I’m going to read you one last verse to finish this up: I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through (Christ) who gives me strength. Phil. 4:10-13

Paul wrote this in a situation where I personally would have fallen apart, yet he stood strong and confident. Not because he was so strong or so great, but because he knew that he had a GREAT GOD standing above him and the Holy Spirit standing with him.

So maybe you’re in a situation where you can’t control what’s happening, maybe life is so painful that you wonder if you can even make it: Hold on. God has a plan in all of this. I promise.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Oversight and Obliviousness.

So it's obviously been awhile since I've blogged...mostly because of spiritual struggles and my reckoning with the vastness of my own ego. But suffice to say, this isn't my "reentry" back into blogging...more like...a short interlude from my hiatus. But I'm rambling again. I'll make it short and simple: God is working on me with several key issues in my spirituality and so because of this, I'm not blogging much anymore.

So moving on...

Whenever I open facebook I notice a lot of my friends posting links to some of their favorite bloggers which generally open up discussion on topics of Christianity in today's society. I've taken screenshots of just a few for examples:

Discussion about tattoos...
Tackling the topic of alcohol...

About whether bikinis are appropriate wear for our sisters in Christ...

And the topic of Christian dating...

Oh and also this guy...I don't know why but he is EVERYWHERE on facebook right now...relevant? No. Hilarious? Yes...

But I digress...

The simple fact is, we are a generation of bloggers (case in point). As such, we enjoy good healthy discussion about any and all topics especially those surrounding our faith. This is good, as the bible says "As iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another."

But my question for all of this is "Are we forgetting the basics?"

Now before I go on, I'd like to say I am in no way complaining about blogging and reposts. I, like many others, greatly enjoy discussing these topics so long as they don't become obnoxious or destructive. So please, continue to post away with wild abandon.

But all I'm getting at, is that in many cases I feel my generation is struggling with oversight.

I won't lie to you, my generation is a hot mess. The main problem being that we, like our parents were when they were our age, have no idea what it means to be an adult...however the problem is that we think we know everything.

I'll say it again: We think we know everything.

We think we've got it all together and we know about how to fix the world, the government and the economy...we're little geniuses about to bring the fires of revival and revelation to the unwashed masses.

But while we can write a very well thought-out blog post about Christian dating, bikinis or whether drinking alcohol is a sign of worldliness, we literally have no idea about what it means to be a man or a woman of God.

One of the most revolutionary lessons that I ever learned about Godly manhood was from James McDonald in the Act Like Men Conference when he outlined the 4 pillars of biblical manhood:

The James McDonald outline on how to be a man

1. Don't be a woman (Don't look for a "knightess in shining armor" to help support you/Don't be emotionally motivated)

2. Don't be an animal (Don't live for pleasure and thrills at the expense of Godliness)

3. Don't be a boy (Don't expect things to be done for you)

4. Don't be a follower (Lead your girlfriend/spouse to Godliness instead of making her motivate you)

That's it.

It was so simple yet so profound because although I've heard so much about how to biblically pursue a woman, how to perform proper exegesis on scripture, and how to glorify God with my career, I was never really told how to be a man.

In other words, I have lived with an oversight of the basics and an obliviousness to my spiritual growth.

What if instead of blogging about Christian girls wearing bikinis, we put down the laptop and went out to encourage parents to raise their daughters to realize their beauty isn't found in their waistline and the curves of their bodies but in the strength of their character and the depth of their devotion?

What if we decided to challenge each other as men of God to grit our teeth and fight for our sisters purity by encouraging them to seek the approval of the Lord instead of the approval of our eyes?

What if instead of debating whether tattoos are biblical, we discuss the growth of our spiritual lives internally and living our lives as a reflection of that inner growth?

What if, instead of giving out advice on how to be biblically pursued by a man or how to biblically pursue a woman, or just how to biblically wait for that guy or girl, we pray for the strength to find our contentment in God first and then strive towards holiness so we can give the best version of us for our future wife/husband?

In short, what if we got to the heart of the issue?

What if we focused on our own internal flaws and shortcomings before we tackled the shortcomings of our neighbors?

"Ahh but Jeremy, by blogging about this you are pointing out the flaws in others and therefore negating the very point of your posting."

No...not really, what I'm doing is praying for the Lord to reveal my own shortcommings so that I may be able to serve Him better.

I've discovered that others too struggle with getting bogged down in removing a speck from our brothers eye while being blinded by the plank in my own. And in my humble opinion, I feel that encouragement to live for holiness on a day-to-day basis generally reaps better results than simply telling others that what they're doing is reprehensible.

So to bring it all full circle, what am I proposing? To continue to blog and repost like we always have been, but perhaps focusing on the roots of the problem and not the surfacing weeds. This is a world begging for validation and notoriety and so it stands to reason that we will struggle with worldly issues.

But I just can't get it out of my head that maybe if we focused on encouraging others to holiness and focusing the core of our being on reaching out in the love of Christ, then we wouldn't even need to worry about tattoos, bikinis or whether dating him or her is the right thing to do.

Once again, I'm not targeting anyone other than the face I see in the mirror everyday...because I've spent the better part of my walk with the Lord rambling and ranting about how the world is screwed up, how we need to live better, and all these other issues where my motivation was simply to make others live in my own little box of what I saw Christianity to be...and I've become exhausted...I simply can't spend another second filling the air with my ego-inflated opinions on this, that and the other while my own heart still needs growth. What I've needed is quiet communion with the Lord and an inward look at the condition of my own soul and to remove the plank from my own eye before taking up the case against my brother's speck.

But this would be a pretty poor blog post if I didn't have some sort of point or challenge to summarize it all I'll just end with this: let's pray for revelation about the heart of all these issues and how to heal the brokenness that these topics are but a symptom of. And let's take some time to pray for the Lord to step in with the Holy Spirit and guide us in our own personal climb to holiness.

And most of all, be encouraged...know that the work in each of us is far from done, but to quote Much-Afraid in Hind's Feet on High Places: “You, my Lord, never regarded me as I actually was, lame and weak and crooked and cowardly. You saw me as I would be when you brought me to the High Places, when it could be truly said, ‘There is none that walks with such queenly ease, nor with such grace, as she."

Walk with queenly (or in the case of us males, Kingly) grace. Even in our most desperate, despicable and broken moments in our lives, the Lord only ever sees us as holy, pure and unblemished.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Boaz: a study in epic dudeliness

You all know the story of Boaz.

His story is a very small blurb in the middle of a rather tumultuous time in the Old of the tumultuous times considering that if you were living in the Old Testament, life pretty much sucked.

But I digress.

We know him from the book of Ruth and in many cases, the story of Ruth and Boaz is generally focused on Ruth and her peculiar actions. Now I'm not here to distract from Ruth and her contribution to the story, she is indeed an amazing study of courageous and Godly femininity that I think every woman should read up on.

However I'd just like to ponder on the dudes side of this story because in all honesty...Boaz was quite the man if I do say so.

I mean, from his intro in chapter 2, the author is describing him as selfless, loving, respectful and caring. But the thing that really surprises me is how he treated Ruth.

For brevity I'll just explain it this way: In a land where women are treated like property and foreigners are looked at with disgust, it's pretty remarkable that he even let her stay on his field to glean after the harvesters went through.

However not Boaz. No, Boaz was different.

Now let's be honest, what caught his attention like most guys was that she was pretty dadgum attractive however his similarities with the majority of the male gender ends there because from this point on, he becomes the utter definition of a warrior poet.

So what made him manly?

Well for starters, after he found out who she was, he was more impressed with her strength and courage than of her beauty...something that guys almost never do. Another point is like I said earlier, she was a foreigner and by that extent, not to be trusted but to Boaz that meant jack-squat. No, Boaz saw her as what she was, and he took the high road and stood for her in a time when women were valued little more than a donkey. And finally, he showcases the most authentic and tender expression of romantic love that I have ever seen in the entire bible.

Now a lot of people think that Boaz never really had feelings for her until a later time but honestly, as a guy I can tell you he was smitten by her from the moment he saw her. And I can just imagine what's going through his head as he got to know her better:

"Wow...what a woman, she's providing for her mother-in-law and putting herself in danger to do it. If only I were a younger man I'd perhaps consider looking deeper into a marriage but honestly...I'm too old for her, she needs to find herself a young, strong, and capable husband. But until then, I'll keep her safe and well-cared for."

Now we know from the story that he did just that; he protected her, he fed her, he encouraged her and even went so far as to have her work with the rest of the women who worked for him which simultaneously protected her from would-be rapists and thieves, but also gave her a status something like that of what native-born women of Bethlehem enjoyed. (Ruth 2:8)

What makes me laugh in all this is that even though Boaz is a mature, Godly and shrewd man, he's still a guy. And by that I mean, he's about as subtle as a hand grenade.

He felt like he was being all secret-squirrel and whatnot with his ordering the workers to toss some sheaves of grain behind them for her to pick up but let's be honest here, she noticed. And I'm sure she picked up on all the things he was doing for her as well but here's the kicker: Boaz did all these things for her and expected nothing in return.

Now it's said that she stayed and worked in the fields through both the barley and wheat harvests which in Old Testament times, took place during April and May, so for two months he was doing this and never once expected her to reciprocate any kind of affection or attention.

You want to know how I know this? Because he was surprised when he found her asleep at his feet after the harvest. (Culturally this was a woman's way of saying "Hey! I'm open for marriage you dense bum!)

He even told her, roughly paraphrased he basically was like: "wow...thank you for not going after a younger guy, but choosing to love me!" (Ruth 3:10)

This is almost unbelievable given the culture and the context, but there it is. In a time when Boaz could have just forced himself on Ruth and taken her land and her body and have perfect legal license to do so as he was a close relative, he chose instead to love her silently and let her decide on her own future.

This never really happens. Ever. Even today.

It seems like guys try to show affection and love to women with the intent of getting something in return. We always seem to expect some kind of reciprocation or at least some kind of affection. In short...we don't really express affection in order to build the other person up, but to build ourselves up.

I watched a sermon by Dr. Charles Stanley on Christian romantic love. He described today's relational issues as being plagued by desire but little love.

Dr. Stanley described desire as simply what you admire or like about the other individual. It's all about what makes us happy. Desire is all about self. Desire focuses on our own wants and wishes but never focuses on the other individual.

He went even further in describing how desire functions primarily on pleasing oneself and our own needs, and if we attempt to enter into a relationship or marriage hoping that the other person can fulfill our needs, then that will be a painful and most likely, short marriage. Because marriage is not about fulfilling our needs, but fulfilling the needs of our spouse.

From there he went on to describe legitimate, biblical and Christ-like love.

So what is love? (Don't say "baby don't hurt me")

Well to be blunt, love is about giving.

It's not about us, it's about the other person involved.

Dr. Stanley described true love as putting the other individual and their interests and needs above your own. He described a marriage built on desire as two people leeching each other dry in an attempt to please themselves, whereas a marriage built on love is like two people holding each other up when they trip and fall.

As an example, he described a conversation he had with one of the young men he was mentoring and how the young man wanted to marry his girlfriend and was about to ask her father for his blessing.

After he finished speaking Dr. Stanley asked him this question: "What if he says no? What if he doesn't give you his blessing?"

To which the young man hung his head sadly and thought for a moment, and then said "Then I would let her go and move on...I love her too much to put her through a lifetime of strife with the man who loved her first."

my friends is true love.

That is what Boaz showcased.

That is what I am praying for every single day.

Because I don't love like Boaz...I really don't. I love like most of the other guys in the world where I only show love to get it returned to me.

But when we really think about it, this true love is exactly what Christ shows us every day.

How many times has he shown us love and affection and we turn and stuff it in his face?

How many times have we completely ignored His blessings and turned to cheaper thrills and pleasures?

How many times has He provided for us and expected nothing in return?

The simple answer to these questions is "all the time".

So where do we go from here?

Well, for me, I developed this prayer that I've been praying daily. I'm not saying you should say this prayer, but just that I've been praying it and it goes something like this:

"Lord, give me the strength to love like Boaz. Give me this irrational and absurd love that puts the other person above myself. And finally, please guide me to it, because I don't have it in me...inside I'm broken and ugly, but only through You can I have this love...start the change in me. Amen."

Now here's the kicker: unless we are fully, completely and radically in love with Christ, we can't ever love like this.

Dr. Stanley made this final point that kind of rocked my world: We can't truly love if we don't truly love ourselves. The inability to love ourselves shows that our view of God's love for us is skewed. It shows that we don't see ourselves as Christ does, and that shows a deeper problem of not trusting that Christ truly, deeply, and intimately loves us. And as we all know, that unless we are connected to the source of love that is Christ, we can never truly love others.

What does Christ's love do for us?
-drives out fear (1 John 4:18)
-gives us new hope and fills us with joy (Romans 15:13)
-love heals (Psalm 147:3)
-gives us peace that is beyond human understanding (John 14:27)

I don't know about you guys, but I fill the description of a love-starved individual...I don't know why but in my life I've been looking for someone to love me deeply, sincerely and without restraint...and I've been looking in all the wrong places. I can't find it in people...I can't find it in things or thrills or romance or sex...I can only find it in Christ. It wasn't until I received this word from Christ in a dingy hotel room in a forgotten corner of Missouri that I realized just how much I needed Him deeply and completely and I hope it brings some hope and perhaps even some healing to you as well.

"My dear son/daughter, do you not see how I want to love you? How I want to fulfill you? Do you know that I desperately want to fill that need in your heart? I want to build you, to heal you, and to never leave you. I so deeply want to fill you with My love so abundantly that you can't even hold it in. I will NEVER forget you, I will NEVER abandon you, I will NEVER not have time for you and I will NEVER use you. I LOVE YOU my dearest son/daughter. You are the joy of my life."

Saturday, May 25, 2013

For when the air gets thick...

This is a post I've actually been pretty darn afraid to write be honest it's something deeply personal and something that I struggle with at a level that goes straight down to the core of my being, but as it is, when inspiration strikes, I know it's time to blog. So here goes...

"I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down in to Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look...that is why it is so important that you know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances....nothing else matters. And now, daughter of Eve, farewell..."

Aslan gave this warning to Jill in The Silver Chair just before she embarked on a journey that would reshape her very being. It was part instructional and part warning and in essence, He was telling her that unless she stayed true to His path, she would falter and the "thicker air" of Narnia would confuse her mind and cause her to make bad decisions.

In my mind, there is nothing more appropriate and applicable to the Christian walk than this.

This rings so true in my life because I know what I'm supposed to do. I know the right thing to do and my "instructions" are clear: "love them deeply and love them desperately, let them know that they matter. Stand for those who cannot stand for themselves and above all, be courageous in the power of the Holy Spirit." This, I firmly believe is one of the most important instructions God has given me.

However, so many times in my life, things just...get in the way...I begin to focus so much on other things going around in my life. It could be a new attachment for my AR-15, some new movie is out in theaters, or even just that I'm more tired than normal. But whatever the case is, this is something that distracts me from my Lord's calling and so the air thickens.

As the air thickens, suddenly my focus shifts. My mind suddenly wanders while I'm doing my devotions, my excitement is no longer on Christ but on things that don't matter. My spirit suddenly begins to have an all-too familiar fleshly nature take control...suddenly I start focusing on appearances and forget the signs.

As this takes over, my old sins come back. My old habits come back. My old self comes back. Mostly in the form of two things: Lust and insecurity.

I'll talk about the latter...because lust is pretty simple to be honest. It's bad. Don't do it.

But as for insecurity, it's something that has plagued me for almost my entire life. As you probably know from an earlier post, my childhood wasn't easy friend-wise. Not to over-dramatize it but basically I was bullied and excluded quite a bit. In fact, in middle school I had three friends who I considered to be my best friends. I would do anything for them, I spent my entire summers with them and I always felt like I could be myself around them. When everyone else mocked me for my ethnicity or social awkwardness, they didn't care, I felt safe around them.

But it wasn't to last.

Around 8th grade, for reasons unknown to me, they decided to move on. They stopped talking to me, they all began mocking me and calling me a freak as tore me to pieces. But life went on and I luckily had some other friends that I knew who accepted me into their fold.

But there was another hitch...they were cool. And I was not.

These guys and girls who were to be my new circle of friends were smart, wealthy, athletic, and popular.

In their defense, they tried to accept me but they were in all honesty...normal.

They talked like normal kids, they acted normal, and they lived normal.

Never did they have an awkward moment where their voices cracked, never did they not know what to say in a large group of people, and they never said a random joke...everything was cool, collected, and well...normal. And so when a guy like me acted random or strange or awkward...they either geve me weird looks or refused to talk to me completely.

This taught me a very hard lesson: unless you act cool, no one will like you.

This taught me that affection, friendship and even romance was utterly conditional and there was no such thing as a lasting and real relationship. It was all about how you acted. If you acted good enough, you got accepted, but if you acted weird, then it was all over and you were back to being a freak.

This helped develop a paranoia deep within me that literally made me desperate to please my peers. I felt that as long as I was utterly cool and popular, then I was worth something, but if I wasn't the coolest, or the best, or the most spiritual, or the funniest then I was worth nothing.

So now that we're caught up, I hope you can understand how deep of a struggle this is for me to overcome. I desperately fight it every day but like I said...when the air thickens, my sins come back.

I stop looking at my life through God's eyes. I forget Galatians 2:20 when God reminds me that my old self; the insecure, angry, depressed, addictive, and selfish Jeremy has died and God has put in me a Jeremy that is secure in Christ, loving, joyful, self-controlled, and selfless.

I forget 1 John 3:1 when God calls me His son and how deeply intimate that title is.

And I forget God's challenge in Colossians 2:6-7 when Christ calls me to walk firmly confident in Him.

The air thickens. I forget. Insecurity strikes again.

As that happens, the old lies that haunted me for so long begin to whisper in my ears.

"You're a freak"

"No one really likes you...they hate having you around but they're kind enough to tolerate you."

"Unless you do the dance and act the act, no one can possibly like being around you."

"You are quite possibly
worst Christian are the most messed up human on the planet."

And finally...

"You are alone." 

With these lies taunting me, suddenly I begin to over-analyze EVERYTHING. My "feelers" are always feeling around trying to get the "real meaning" of what people say. I refuse to trust that people actually enjoy my company...I refuse to trust that I'm likable.

Then it spirals even further downward where this paranoia forces me to try to "understand" what people "really" say and do.

I then try to "stay a step ahead of them" and anticipate when they will abandon me or hurt me because I so deeply don't want to be surprised again by another betrayal or exclusion.

Do you see why this is hard to write about? This is something that is so deeply personal, I almost don't even believe it myself when I see it in writing.

So if you've been around me lately, you've probably noticed a lot of this coming out...I don't know why and I'd like to tell all of you one thing: I'm sorry.

I'm sorry for not trusting you, I'm sorry for being paranoid about you. I'm sorry for the stress it's caused you.

Whoever is reading this...I hope at least one of you out there is struggling with the same thing I am because I want to tell you the thing that I always long to hear in times of insecurity and that my Father whispers in my ear every day:

"It's going to be okay...because you're pretty okay yourself. Not because of how you act, not because of how you look, and not because of how you dress, but because you are you. And you are pretty spectacular."

Do you hear that? YOU are spectacular. God thinks you're worth dying for, and I think you're worth fighting for.

If there's any point in this post, it's this: Don't let the air "thicken" around you. Pursue God headlong as fast and as fiercely as you can because fighting for that clear Narnian air is worth more than anything else on this planet. The clarity and peace that God gives us when we focus on Him and our identity in Him is beyond words.

So if you feel confused, and the signs are lost, and you may even end up in a giant castle about to be cooked into pies, remember that God is just waiting for you to clear out of that slump and run back to His adventure.

Instead of my usual farewell in which I say "watch some Victorious and sip some green tea" I would like for you to watch this video below and drink in the peace and clarity that Christ desperately longs to bring you.

Until inspiration strikes again,


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Things I Hate About Facebook

So I've noticed the last few posts of mine have been rather heavy handed and dealing with pretty deep stuff. Upon thinking of my next post, the first things that came to mind were again, heavy and deep stuff.

SO I figure I'll sprinkle in a few funnehs around my more serious posts for variety, after all, random is my middle name.

Actually it's not. But I don't care.

But I digress. This is just a list of things that my fellow Facebookers do that annoys the CHIZ out of me and makes me want to rip my voluminous Asian hair right out of my head. Now I know a lot of you may just do these exact things all the time and if that's the we know each other a bit better don't we?

But anyways here it is:

Things Jeremy Hates On FaceBook (or any other social networking website)

1. Badly edited mirror selfies
-I've never understood how changing the color of a picture, saturating the pixels and then scribbling all over it with PaintBrush somehow makes the picture look more appealing.
-this is the opposite of attractive, I look at these and think of little girls on MySpace back when MySpace was cool.

2."Truth Is" statuses
-Truth is...these make you look desperate for attention at any cost whatsoever.
-I'll give you a protip here: Facebook is not a good place for cultivating one's personality and social circles. It's like going into Hooters for female attention, yes you'll get it but no, it's in no way sincere or realistic.

3. "Share/like" posts
-Want something to trend? Exploit a well known disaster, death or tragedy and attempt to curry sympathy by saying that liking or sharing the picture somehow means something.
-Let me make it simple: re-posting or liking doesn't mean you care or are praying.

4. Christian "share/like" posts
-if re-posting a guilt-ridden "If youz deny me before teh menzez ah willz deny youz before teh Fatherz heeeeeerrrrrrpppppp uh ddeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrppppp" post means you're going to heaven and not posting it means you somehow hate Jesus...well...I guess I'm going to hell because I refuse to re-post ANY of these and I will continue to do so to the day I die. 
-It's the Facebook version of leaving tracts on restaurant tables after you eat. It's what I like to call a "Jesus hit-and-run".

5. Re-posting stupid quotes made by hair-brained celebrities
-Whenever I see THIS start going around...

...I immediately think of THESE creatures...

6. People who complain about hashtags on Facebook
-Seriously, if this bugs you, then what happens when something REALLY bad happens to you?
-Of all the things to complain about on Facebook this is pretty pathetic.
-You are accusing people of being "so mainstream" when they use hashtags on facebook...think about that for a minute. Facebook is the most mainstream thing on earth next to oxygen and water.
-You look like a whiny hipster

7. Posting vaugue passive/aggressive statuses about people you know
-Pretty simple concept here, if you have a problem with someone, go confront them and solve it instead of complaining about it on Facebook.
-No one else cares that "that slut" is flirting with your boyfriend or that you are your own free spirit and "don't need anyone's affirmation"...because if you didn't, you wouldn't be on FaceBook complaining about it.

So yeah...that's about it, I'm sure I'll think of a few later and when I do maybe I'll post a Vol. 2 or something. Until then, sip some green tea and watch some Victorious. I hope you got some lulz from this and if I offended you in any way then fill out this form and I'll get back to you okay?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Gentlemen, start your engines! (A plea to my generation's males)

"What does it be a woman?"

This question was asked in one of the final episodes of Victorious and it never was answered however I'd like to ask that same question but for us Y-Chromosomers out there.

"What does it be a man?"

What comes to mind? Probably some lumberjack-like dude with a barrel chest and a huge beard. Or if you're in the younger generations, a sparkly vegan vampire that drives eco-friendly cars *shudders in disgust*.

But seriously, who are we as guys?

I don't think my generation or even the subsequent generations after me can honestly answer that completely. Why? Because we were never forced to be one.

For some reason we just haven't gotten' this "male" thing down on lock.

Now who can really blame us, I mean, the media tells us that we are dumb, horny and childish. Our female counterparts say we are dumb, horny and childish. And our culture tells us...well...that we are dumb, horny and childish.

And for the most part, all three parties agree that this is exactly how we are supposed to be.

We're told that to be a man is to be as irresponsible as possible. We're to "take all we can and give nothing back". We're supposed to live the YOLO lifestyle.

And so as good little boys, we do exactly as we're told

Just look around a bit and look at ourselves men, why are so many of us still obsessed with video games, sports and action movies but care very little for things that truly matter?

Because we still are boys.

We haven't grown up because we're told not to. Think about it, in every TV show and sitcom, where is the humor found? In us as guys acting like idiots. We bumble around looking for food, sex, and beer. And yet who is responsible? Who are the ones making decisions? Who are the ones leading?

The women.

Why is this? Well, a good boy would say that it's because of feminists and their efforts to dominate the culture with their views.

And in this I suppose is some truth.

But to be honest, I think that's making excuses.

We are the problem.

We never decided to truly grow up and step out of our childhood. We just are existing in this perpetual boyhood filled with football, Skyrim and our favorite burger joints.

And in my opinion, we're about as useless as a three-legged dog.

Seriously, guys, we aren't made to be this. We aren't made to live like this.
God didn't create us to live like boys. He created us to live like men.

Unfortunately, thanks to our original ancestor Adam, we have it hard-wired into our system to be wimps. As Adam shrank back and refused to be strong and stand for his wife Eve, so are we shrinking back in our culture and letting our "Eves" do the leading. And so, everything falls apart.

Now before I go on I'm sure there's a few of my female counterparts out there flipping their lid thinking that I'm saying that without the uber-man's leadership, the women will inevitably screw everything up.

I'm not saying that in the slightest.

I'm saying this is a team effort.

We as men are responsible for our own actions just as women are for theirs, however for some reason we seem to be okay with letting women shoulder all the responsibility and burdens of this world while we lose ourselves in sex and television.

Now before I continue, let me be clear on another thing: I am NOT in any way condemning my fellow males here, I'm part of the problem. I am the problem. I see it in my lifestyle, I see it in my habits, and I see it in my soul. That's why I'm blogging about it, because I'm not okay with it.

Guys let's be honest here, instead of pursuing Christ with every ounce of our being, we just throw him off to the side. To us, he's another bro to be used when it's convenient.

Instead we turn to drugs, alcohol, sex, porn and money to keep ourselves fulfilled.

Now I'm not going to give that Christianese statement of saying "but none of those will fill us like Jesus! *fist pump*"

Because although true, it doesn't really do anything to make it relevant to us.

Seriously, in all honesty, in our own minds, we see money, sex and an emotional high as more intense than spending time with Christ.

I know because I make this mistake every day. My devotion time generally hovers around 10 minutes to an hour, and yet the rest of my day is spent making myself feel good. I do the bare minimum to keep Christ in my life and somehow I am under the delusion that I am a "good Christian man" when in fact, I'm failing miserably.

When we don't spend intimate and deep time with the Lord, naturally we will find other things that keep our attention and we eventually believe the lie that God cannot fulfill us in the way that our addictions can.

So instead of giving you the good happy reason why we should be serious about Christ. I'm going to discuss the consequences of our failure.

See, we've failed our sisters in Christ. We've failed the women in our lives.

By neglecting our God-given duty to live righteously and lead by Godly example, we have forced the women in our lives to not only strive for their own righteousness, but also ours.

Think it over,

How many times do the girls have to keep a relationship pure?

How many times do girls have to make the decisions?

How many times do girls have to be strong for us?

I'd say about 98% of the time honestly.

How are we okay with this guys? As our sisters stagger under the weight of their own hurt, confusion, and growth, suddenly they have to deal with ours as well.

There is no better example of this than in my own life.

See there once was a girl that I liked...a lot...honestly I thought I loved her. She was "the one" and I knew from the moment I got to know her that we would some day be married.

But there was this slight problem.

She didn't dig my chili.

Upon talking to her about it, she very patiently and lovingly told me that she truly and deeply cared about me as a friend but that she wasn't interested in a relationship.

And what was my reaction?

I denied it. I literally couldn't accept it so I lingered on in her life desperately trying to win her attention by bringing her all my problems and drama in the hope that she would show me compassion and by that extent, attention and affection.

The worst problem is it worked for awhile. And so for about a year I lingered on in her life, dumping all my problems on her and forcing her to bear not only her problems and burdens, but mine as well.

She eventually had enough and sent me on my way, I then healed and got over it.

But all this to say: Guys, we may not be doing this exactly, but we are forcing the women in our lives to be both women and men.

Because we refuse to grow up, they have to do the work of two people: theirs and ours

Are we okay with this? Can we truly as men look at how much damage our inaction has caused and still pick up the Xbox controller?

Because guys, my heart is broken for us, my heart is broken for my sisters in Christ who feel like the men in their lives are out to manipulate and hurt them.

We can't keep doing this brothers.

We have to step up to our God-given mandate.

We have to start looking at others with the intent of winning their soul to Christ.

We have to be the ones who initiate integrity in our fellow men.

We have to be the ones who say "no" to the world and it's addictions.

We have to step up in defending our sisters honor by refusing to use them as an addiction.

That's why I say "gentlemen, start your engines". Because we've idled enough at the starting line doing nothing but revving our engines to get attention. We've wasted enough time talking the talk, now it's time to walk it.

The world tells us to sit back and relax, but we've spent enough time relaxing.

The world tells us that to be a man is to be physically strong and emotionless, but our King was a carpenter who wept.

The world tells us that women are objects to be used and tossed aside when we are done with them, but we know deep down that they are our sisters with their own hopes, dreams, hurts, and pasts.

I'll say it again: Look at the girls in our lives, are they stressed? Tired? Frustrated with us as guys? Well...maybe we deserve it. We can't go along anymore gorging ourselves on what makes us feel good, we can't keep serving only ourselves, and we can't keep using our sisters to make definition of our lives when God is calling for us to live His adventure.

Guys...brothers...Start your engines. It's time to race.