Running From Love

Words are short.
She was perfect to look upon,
As an adventurous fairy-tale read to a child.
She was a miracle;
New like the dawn of a Spring morning,
Sweet like Trader Joe’s cheese,
Opportune like the refresh button fixing website glitches.
Her melody is a luxury;
Her vitality is a necessity.

You don’t know it,
But sometimes I peak through your window.
You look different when I peak – you’re off guard.
I dote on you.
If you’ve come here for a compliment, you’ve come to the right place.
And if I had a nickel for every time I thought that…
I’d have 47 nickels;
Enough for my nephew to buy chocolates for his kindergarten crush;
And if it can work for him…

Words are misleading.
Only I am perfect.
Your true heart precludes your perfection;
You are not perfect,
You never were a miracle.
You’re simply a girl, running from me.

You were born running from me.

I peak through your window but I only see myself.
It was always myself. New, yet broken;
Like the bad sequel of a good movie.
As cliché as vintage knock knock jokes.
Fake like plastic cheese in a storefront window.
On the brink of the curtains closing, I turn around,
I now see that it is Jesus looking in on me.

The Word is fulfilling.
My feet finally at ease.
The room fills empty as I look back at Jesus;
His love replaces the emptiness,
No words can grade the transcendence of His stare.
He is peaking in on me.
He is peaking in on us.
Us, His Church, His Perfection, His Miracle. His Bride.
If we’ve come for a compliment, then we’ve come to the wrong place.
If we’ve come for love and vitality –
Or just to simply stop running, then…welcome home.

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Why the Devil LOVES the Popular Song Entitled “My Nigga” and the Website “WorldstarHipHop”

Very rarely do I attempt to write on a societal issue that is directed toward a certain culture or can be interpreted as toward a particular race. There is never any registering in my mind to do so. God has always led my passion to mainly focus on my universal family of believers, as well as future eternal matters and even having lovely talks with the atheists of this world.

With that said, there is a very popular hip-hop song that came out fairly recent entitled “My Nigga”. Ummm, really??? Catchy beat + great hook = SUCCESS! 50 million Youtube views, in the Billboards. Also, the popularity of the website “WorldstarHipHop” has boomed. This is a Youtube-like website that recommends daily videos to watch. While a few videos are positive – a great majority consist of publicly uploaded videos of brawls, visually/lyrically explicit music videos, embracing thug life, twerking, and other things of the like. This is sad. While this has always been around, the troubling feeling is the current “efficient ease of access”. There is now a structured website that hands out this crushingly negative information. This, in turn, quickens the psychological game that is ultimately being played by the powers of Satan.

(Note: I am NOT referencing ALL hip-hop music as bad; NOR am I depicting the African American race/subculture as negative in any way. My goal is not to derogate those two topics, but to gently and carefully increase our awareness of what Satan is twisting in this domain of urban culture)

What used to be a slow and tedious process of injecting misogyny, encouraging violence, thwarting education, inspiring jail time, and praising egotism in numerous ways over time… can now be found in a single musical song. Or, more efficiently, in a quintessential website.

May the dark underworld rejoice at this profound time! They worked long and hard for moments like these. May they take a lunch break from their quest to further the universal acceptance of all evils – they are dancing as they triumph over this current victory. A victory of domino effects.

What is extra devastating is that it is hard for a person inside that lifestyle to see flaws. Sometimes things can be seen dimly but it is very tough to see the sinfulness inside a bubble if what you have always seen is inside that bubble. There is no standard to relate to. The sinfulness becomes normalized and looses its evil stench. Now that God has graciously taken me out from that paradigm I can see the scary flaws inside the bubble most clearly. However, before I went to college, I was in that bubble almost everything seemed normal. Just as a kid in the slums of India plays in the mud and finds it fun … so did I find that music and culture as a way of life. If someone would have came up to me and told me otherwise, I would have classified them as weird. And I was in the AP and honors classes! So you know some miscues social miscues are at play here. How do we fix this when it is so rampant and deeply in the urban ethos? Where is the hope and mercy? It overwhelms me at times.

Firstly, the sin is not in the music. It is in our hearts (Matthew 15:19). The origin of music can be explained by the usage of it in heaven (Revelation 5:8-9, 14:2-3). Because there is music in heaven (and because God is to be praised, Psalm 95-105), we have an inherent earthly desire for it. Which is why the scriptures continually push us to sing and make joyful music for the Lord. Something is us is longing to be satisfied. When we hear a song that we like there is a strong sense of a celestial experience. The Avett Brothers, Kanye West, Brad Paisley, and Coldplay do that for me … wow, my ears fell in love at first soundwave. My emotions would physically stir within me, as my brain would soak in the lyrics and random combination of instruments. Funny, it doesn’t take long for a new song to grow “old” on me.  In heaven, to the contrary, there will be no humdrum of hearing. We will never get tired of the His music because His infinite glory will cause the extinction of “dullness” as we know it.

Satan has slowly and steadily been working on our culture and society to develop what we currently accept as music. His slow artwork on the American ethos has been ever-so progressing closer and closer to a larger “collective” acceptance of sin. We need to be better aware of his plots in music, TV shows, movies, online, marriages, political systems, etc. Oddly enough, Satan doesn’t have to do much anymore. He used to have to drive the wheel for us. Lately, it seems we have been in a state where Satan can be more inclined to sit back and relax and let the sinfulness of man (i.e, Total Depravity) take the wheel of the bus as it uncontrollably heads toward a ditch.

Anyone that is in or around that culture, please hear this: You are not stuck. Keep.Getting.Up. With our Savior Jesus by our side, we know that the outcome of it all is secure. The cross is where love and mercy meet. How long will it take for us to accept what is freely given to us? Again, the sin is in our hearts. But Ephesians 1:19-20 is going to say that the same great immeasurable power that God worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead is also in those of US that believe!!! Now let’s grab that … let’s grab it, think it out and eat it. For those who believe, the same power that raised a beaten/torn Jesus from the dead is now at work in us. In the deepest sector of our being…the power of God is working and chiseling away the sinfulness and making us more and more holy. This gives our sin-filled society, a much-needed glimpse of holiness and joy. This is why we do not celebrate us, we celebrate Him. Faith heals and trusting God empowers in a way that has historically changed entire cultures. You lose, Satan.

A Christmas Letter from ADAM, the First Man Alive

I remember that it hurt, looking at her hurt. I remember the gut-wrenching feeling of it all. I remember the silly fig leaves that Eve and I used as coverings as we hid from our Creator. At that very moment of shame and horror from committing the first sin in history, we felt Death. Only hours beforehand were we “being fruitful” and looking forward to “multiplying”. Up to this point everything we did joyfully flowed into further worship of our Creator. Things were perfect. When The Fall occurred, my initial thought was of how horribly passive I had been in protecting Eve from the deceptive serpent. I failed to lead my wife in the appropriate manner that I was designed for.

However, when God confronted us, I then realized the ultimate outcome of my actions … against God and God alone, had I sinned. For He gave only one simple rule, but in return I did evil in his sight. In a short moment, all the perfection of the world tore and everything became changed. Relationships and life became hollow and broken. Everything that people now see as normal on earth was once much much much sweeter in every way imaginable. And my sweet Eve…I remember that it hurt, looking at her hurt. I still remember it all as if it were yesterday. Since passing away, Eve and I have been shown infinitely undeserving mercy. We have been in the heavenly presence of the Triune God and dined the angels and countless descendants after us. The feeling here so indescribable that I cannot put it into words. All I can do is enjoy this merriment and worship him all the more. Even as I can remember my downfalls on earth, I can rejoice as I now have a warm perspective drawn from living in the presence of Christ.

I am currently writing this letter in heaven because today is a glorious day! The angels are flipping around with an excitement that has been anticipated for since the beginning of creation. They are celebrating a predestined plan put into motion before I was even created. Just a few months ago, Jesus left heaven to go into the world. And today He is born in the flesh to the virgin Mary! One of the angels just left to visit the family. Jesus, part of the triune Godhead, has left this wonderland in order to fix all that has been wrong with the world. To redeem to all creation that the big picture is the glory of God. Oh how he loves us so. I am in awe. Oh Oh Oh the depths of the riches and knowledge and wisdom of God! (Romans 11:33).

Through me sin entered the world, and death came through sin. From this occurrence death came to all people, because all have sinned. I have witnessed famine, murder, natural disasters, slavery, pride, hatred, wars, and many more calamities. Many generations after God’s promise to Eve and I (Genesis 3:15b), from heaven I saw God’s unfathomable promises given to Abraham, Moses, and the apocalyptic prophets. I have seen the miracles God laid out for his people and I gasped as they continually turned their backs on Him. I witnessed the Bible being written and ending with Malachi – followed by approximately 400 years of scriptural silence from the Lord… that is, until this very day of Jesus’ birth. The promise of the great and powerful kingdom and of a Savior given to the people seemed bleak from an earthly perspective. In heaven, however, it is impossible to fear that God would fall short of His promises. In His glory-filled presence we know that he wins. And now we see more of the epic picture He has been painting on the canvas of the earth.

I am looking at Jesus humbling himself to be born in Bethlehem. He could have been born in a palace with thousands of angels guarding him. But he chose a different route. He is 100% man and 100% God. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 53:6). I do not know how yet, but the Holy Spirit testifies to us that He will be despised and rejected by men, being acquainted with suffering. He will bear our grieves. Past, present, and future. I should pay harshly for my mistakes, but Jesus is taking my place.

As I continue to watch this epic story that God has had rolling since the beginning of time, there is no doubt that I will continue to be in awe. Let the earthly rivers and trees clap their hands. Let the grassy fields exult and the mountains sing with joy. The people of the present age and the people in the future are so utterly blessed. They have the Kingdom of God in the midst of them now. The beginning of the restoration of what was broken, initially by me, is there in the flesh. They get something that Moses, Isaiah, Abraham, and millions of other people just hoped for. They longed for this promise. But the people on earth get to know it and walk with it and see Him. It is not hope alone for them, but it is a concrete reality.

I ask that they celebrate this day for many centuries to come. Just as the angels and the rest of us in heaven are celebrating. May they never forget what this day truly means. May they run with perseverance the race set before them… throwing away the sin and weight that clings to them. I cannot wait until the time comes when we will give them a rich welcome into this eternal kingdom. I was once Your enemy, now I am seated at the table. Jesus, thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Some other verses used: Psalm 51:4, Romans 5:12, Jeremiah 2, Isaiah 55:12, Psalm 98:8, Colossians 2:9, Hebrews 11, 12:1)

God Saves All of us Crazy & Odd People

  • I have some Asian friends that are a part of this very large Asian group of believers. They gather together in various homes every day of the week. They pray drastically different than how I have learned to pray. They do hospitality well and treat me as one of their own. And they love Jesus very very much.
  • I have these friends that are connoisseurs when it comes to alcoholic beverages. They know every brewery in Raleigh and like drinking wine as if they are practicing for heaven. They truly have deep desires to grow in their faith. And they love Jesus very very much.
  • I have other friends that were taught that drinking alcohol is sinful and that God does not want us to use musical instruments during church worship. But God still saved them despite such teaching. And they love Jesus very very much.
  • I know many people that were raised in the Bible Belt and were honestly saved at the age of 6. Some come from financially well-off families. They praise Ronald Reagan, and they think Democrats are ignorant. And they love Jesus very very much.
  • I know people that were not raised in the church and still struggle with dirty mouths at times. However, they have a youthfully passionate faith. They think Republicans have satanic tendencies. And they love Jesus very very much.
  • I have a few friends that are natural born skeptics. If someone tells them that a movie is good…they will doubt that opinion until they see the movie for themselves. They wrestled with doubt in Christ until they received enough rational proof. The love apologetics and Jesus very very much.
  • I grew up in Riverdale/College Park, GA – In a society where rapper T.I. was idolized as The King, gang members were rock stars, and Waka Flocka was viewed the second coming of Christ… even through that, God saved. And there are people there who love Jesus very very much.
  • There are some friends of mine that are borderline hippies. They rock climb in their chacos and contra dance every week. Some do not have a facebook! However, they intimately walk with the Lord in ways that I am jealous of. And they love Jesus very much.
  • I have a dear friend that spent some time in Haiti for missionary work. She describes that, while there, some of the Haitian natives would constantly come up to her to ask “if she had Jesus in her heart.” Depending on her response, they were ready to tell her all about Jesus. Haha, they were going to teach a Christian missionary about the Gospel. Evangelistic boldness is so woven into their Haitian culture that they automatically bring God up to anyone without fear. They love Jesus very very much.
  • There are between 70 and 90 million believers in China. A majority of whom worship in underground caves and in residential house churches. The communist Chinese government continues to imprison and kill leaders, but the revival continues to flourish. The government has begun to cut off the water supply and electricity in the homes of those house churches… but they still keep multiplying. They love Jesus very very much.

If we’re honest, many of us fall into the trap of believing that Christianity draws in a certain type of person. Whether it is a certain Myers-Briggs personality type, a subtle caricature, a certain race, hierarchy of class, economic status, or geographic locality. This foggy perception of Christians suddenly transforms our Biblically “open” faith into a religion that seems very “exclusive. An exclusiveness that is seen from both outside and inside the church. How is it possible that we have neglected to open our eyes into a stable awareness that God reaches ALL domains of society? Additionally, all throughout scripture there are commands and imagerys of unity within the body. “One body with many members” – 1 Corinthians 12:12. Ephesians 4, Psalm 133:1.

There is something about a body of people standing “together” firm in the faith, as Philippians 1:27, 28 describes. When people that have the same interests and motives surround us, we feel this sense of warmth and confidence that nothing can stop us. That is why there is such a thing as home-field advantage in sports…the fans and team feel emboldened around each other. Imagine the players on your favorite football team arriving to their game wearing different colored jerseys. There’s no unity in that and it will not intimidate the other team. We need one another.

I would love for those Haitian believers to teach me a thing or two about boldness and evangelism. When I’m having doubts about my faith, I need to hear from natural born skeptics how they wrestle Satan with apologetics and the power of God’s word. We need one another because God has sanctified us all in such particular ways that are intended to build the body. Not only for our local church, but also the universal (or global) church body at large. What Satan wants…what Satan loves is for us to not have any awareness of each other. For example, he doesn’t want us aware of the boldness of our Haitian brothers and sisters because, in turn, that would embolden us. Satan wouldn’t want that, now would he…

A close Clemson friend of mine recently told me of this God-given vision he received while sleeping one night: As he was dreaming, he suddenly saw this vision of an uncountable large gathering of people that were far beyond thousands of thousands. They were of all the different nationalities and from different walks of life. All of a sudden, their skins peeled and they were no longer recognizable by any form of identity. They weirdly became transformed into everyday construction tools from our local Home Depot (ex. hammers, measuring tapes, bevel squares, screwdrivers etc). They depicted how God was using each one of those immense number of believers for in collectively building his kingdom. Suddenly, all the tools went to work, building God’s kingdom in front of my friend!! He further described that it did not take long for all the clattering and noises to become overwhelmingly loud. All the action started causing his heart rate to abruptly increase and he literally started shaking and woke up from his dream.

Imagine the clatter we can make together as one team for our God and Savior. Imagine the encouragement and the inescapable reflection of God’s glory that would take place. Imagine us setting personal preference as secondary to the Gospel. #OneBody #OneSpirit #OneChurch #ILoveHashtags

A Letter to My Future Wife of 50 Years

First things first, let’s get this awkwardness out of the way. Sure, you’re roughly around 75 years old, which means that you are approximately 50 years older than I currently am. Yes, you are from the future and I, conversely, am sitting here in the abstract year of 2013. But regardless, I’m your husband still. Also, you are the true weird one for marrying me. What we you thinking Sweetheart? Did your parents not warn you about me? Oh well, fifty years have now past so you’re well coveted in this relationship…there is no turning back now.

I am writing this soliloquy right now simply because I do not know you. However, my Father in heaven very well knows you. I am clueless as to the specifics of your personality, your current spiritual walk, your race and ethnicity, financial status, physical attributes, your love language, hobbies, or whether you Screen shot 2013-10-28 at 11.31.09 PMlike sports or not … I know nothing. Fifty years from now, I presume that our children are grown and out of the house. We’ve retired and settled into a house somewhat in close proximity to our grandchildren (because we LOVE to spoil babies). I would also reluctantly suppose that at this point our marriage has lost that youthful vibrancy that it once had. Our knees may not be the same dancing knees that they once were. We’ve probably grown accustomed to our habitual tendencies to the point where there is not much room for surprises anymore. Justin Bieber’s grandson will lead the new generation of youth with their annoying futuristic boy-band music that will give us all headaches.

With all that said, there is no place I’d rather be than with you. You are God’s gift to me and you are such the blessing that I cannot currently fathom. You are obviously, after 50 years of marriage, very acquainted with my downfalls. My weaknesses. My shortcomings. I am sorry for the times I grew angry with you. Whenever my prideful ego flared up. Each time I was passive as a leader. Please forgive for the times I embarrassed you (there will be a plethora of those coming, ha). On the other hand, I thank you for loving me and staying with me. I praise God for the spiritual gifts and talents that he blessed you with to help lead our family. For the times you submitted with trust. Know that I pray for you now. Admittedly, I should pray much more – the Lord knows I should. Luckily there are older, Godly people in my life that pray for you consistently. As God continues to mold me into a Christ-like leader and cultivator, I pray that he is molding you as the crown jewel that you are. I am not saying you are The One (aka bad Disney movies). But since God chose us to be together, apparently you are the one that God wants for me, and vice versa.

Psalm 139: 13-16 shows that God knows all the days of our lives. “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Isaiah 46:8-11 will even go further and proclaim that God purposefully directs the flights of a single bird; and the everyday travels of an individual person. There is also Acts 17:24-27, 16:7,14, Genesis 50:20, Philippians 1:6, Ephesians 1:3-6, Jeremiah 1:5 and many other verses will vividly depict that we move by the hand of God. Therefore God, in his eternal state, is simultaneously aware of me in 2013 AND of you when you read this letter post-2063. He sees our first date, first kiss, last date, and last kiss all at once. Mind-blowing huh? That’s our Father!! He is in charge of our marriage and loves us too much for it to be lackluster! My goodness I hope that we pray and read scripture together. That we forgive often. That joy externally overflows from our relationship for the good of everyone around us. I pray that we do not grow lukewarm in our faith and content with our futuristic gadgets and money. I pray that we are well involved in the church, in missions, and in discipleship — yearning for a deeper relationship with Christ. May we never forget the excitement that lies within the Gospel!

I hope that you are not insecure in your beauty at an elderly age. I will have wrinkles right alongside you. If my focus was on your youthful looks, then I’d be writing this letter to the 30-year-old version of yourself instead. But I’d rather write this to you as you are. It was always about you. Your spirit and soul. The things that are timeless. Plus, at age 30, you were such a pain in the butt. I still cannot believe that I put up with you. Please, let’s not have an argument over this right now. We may have just had the first argument over the space-time continuum. Good thing I won. Seriously, I hope to love further and deeper at 75 years of age than I did at 30 years of age.

By far, the only sad thing about this post is that God does not promise us 50 years of marriage (i.e. to live that long). He does not even promise us 5 years. Our lives are a brief and fragile morning fog that can vanish at any second. Fifty years together would solely be another grace-filled gift from God. However, if we both do not make it that far in age together, we’ll still have eternity to spend in heaven. It is there, that we can begin to dance again. There will be no more lackluster “Us”. For we will dine with our gigantic family of believers in spirited joy – with the presence of Jesus Christ our Lord shining in His full and radiant glory. That is our truest hope. Halleluiah.

I love you Girly. Fifty years of marriage … the best is yet to come.

The Praise of Cute Babies, Ryan Gosling’s Abs, and Holiness

There we sat in the movie theater, with about 200 other people, just in time to see the opening of Crazy Stupid Love. With this being in the genre of a romantic comedy, it is safe to say that the female gender took the majority count in the room, ha. Midway through the movie we finally approached the imminent flirtatious scene between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone (my future wife). What happened next turned out to be hilarious – Ryan Gosling takes off his shirt… and on the 32-foot tall, 75-foot wide movie theater scene, 200 people received a full HD view of his 8-pack abs. I kid you not, every girl in the theater automatically gave some type of audible reaction. 70 girls gave a deep gasp, 70 other girls giggled, and 30 other girls clapped. The 30 guys in the movie theater just smacked their teeth in a jealously retorted gesture. However, the reactions from the girls were priceless. There was a warm delight that triggered in their eyes and bubbled up into a spontaneously audible reaction. An external praise.

ImageNow, let us ask ourselves a question: Why is it that there was such outward expression givien off by those girls? Why did they not just feel the delight and keep that feeling to themselves? We know that their reactions to Ryan’s abs were not forced out but, on the other hand, were naturally performed. That action is slightly weird when you think about it, is it not?

Another example – In the church that I attend we have experienced this “baby boom” over the past 10 months. Literally, there are babies everywhere. I am scared. (I have a prophetic theory that the babies are going to take over the church and turn us into their slaves… but that is neither here nor there). One established fact is that the babies are awfully adorable. I mean my goodness they are precious.  They turn heads like it’s their jobs. People are continuously complementing the babies, continuously gathering around them, and continuously telling other people about a new baby that they must see. What is it that causes us to react like this? It is not as if we haven’t seen a baby before.

The answer happens to be the exact same reason that God asks us to praise him. All throughout the Bible we see numerous instances where God says to give him joyful praises.  C.S. Lewis, who used to be a staunch atheist until his conversion, used to hate Christianity for this reason. He felt as if God was this old beggar-woman asking for praises all the time. After his conversion, he realized the truth behind why God demands that we praise him:

C.S. Lewis –

Just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: ‘Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?’…

…“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.”

What Lewis is saying is that the reason girls in a movie theater naturally give an external reaction to Ryan Gosling’s gorgeous abs is because their joy in those abs does not feel complete until they let it out. The reason we tell people about cute babies is because we have to share this news in order to complete the feeling. The initial joy is fuel that leads us into some form of obedience to achieve the full joy. We see this with Instagram and Facebook as well. We post pictures of the coffee we’re sipping or the delicious meal we’re eating because we must tell someone. Weird, huh? We do it all the time. We are by design worshipers and want people to join us in that feeling of gratification. God wired us for this. God’s demand to praise him is not meant for Himself.  God does not need our approval. He tells us to praise him because in the act of praising we walk into a fulfillment of the eternal-like joy that we were created for. If God loves you he would want what is best for you. What is best for you is Himself. In order for your joy to be naturally completed, it must be expressed. The scriptures are hinting to us, “do you want fullness of joy…do you want everlasting peace and freedom…then praise God in all things with all your heart.” Isaiah 25:1, Psalm 150:2, James 5:13, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, etc.

The Lord wants us to understand that anything we praise that does not end in praise of the triune God will be fleeting (Job 7:6-7, Psalm 144:4, James 4:14). Ryan’s abs will not last forever, babies eventually reach the terrible twos, delicious sandwiches will quickly disappear, and Tom Brady will eventually grow too old for the game. Unless our everyday pleasures end in ultimate praise in Jesus Christ then those pleasures are restricted. Everything that is seen is transient. Our hope lies in focusing more on what is unseen. Jesus takes our sins, dies on the cross in our place for our sins, then rises from death. He gives us his righteousness. He gives us his heart. The more our affections are stirred for Christ, that joy will fuel our obedience to worship, to evangelize, and to naturally give off fruits of the spirit…freely. Not as a job or obligation but because we already feel his affections for us. Continually sitting underneath this Gospel story causes us to continually remember, which in turn, naturally triggers that “joy of eternal significance”. That joy that creation yearns for.

Let us adore Him. Let us praise Him.

Sources:

Reflections on the Psalms. C.S. Lewis. 1958.