Till We Have Love

This is my complaint:

Every beautiful strength has a hideous weakness. My brother, Mufasa, is truly a trendsetter of that adage.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my brother. I have always wanted the best for him. However, the kingdom of the Pride Lands was turning into a nation bound for doom due to his weak incompetence. That said, I refused to call him King Mufasa as the rest of the nation does. I love him far more than any political title can represent.

My name is Scar; the younger sibling to Mufasa and frequently seen as the Ghost of Christmas Past in his shadow. Mufasa was always the “good” one in the eyes of others. He foolishly relied on his Faith. Even through it all, I was never jealous of Mufasa – to the contrary I loved him but simply disagreed with his ways of doing things.

Mufasa and I were inseparable growing up. Mother used to say that we counted on one another from birth. There has always been a joy-filled pride in me when it comes to my brother. I looked up to him. He was the fastest in the pack, he had the 2nd best looking mane (second to myself of course), and his leadership presence was quite satiable. Rafiki, who serves as shaman of the Pride Lands, spoke of Mufasa as, “Having a temperament rivaled only by the angels.”  But a boring temperament if you ask me. He’d always waste many hours a day staring at the distant mountain gorge. Foolish.

We had plans to rule Pride Rock together, but the political tradition of our nation put my brother as the sole heir to the throne. Before his crowning, I pleaded with him three times to instead fight with me so that we could rule together. This was for the good of him, me, and the kingdom itself. I failed miserably in my attempts.

Things worsened when his son was born. Whatever piece of intimacy our relationship had left was forfeited over to his investment in Simba, the next heir to the throne. That was the real day I lost my brother – not today.  I love Simba, but Mufasa needed a brother in arms not a little kid in waiting. See, Mufasa cannot sustain this nation without me. We are best when we have each other which, in turn, benefits society.

Therefore, I am writing this letter to you, Lord, with my fist raised. My complaint comes against you. Even though I have done nothing but serve and honor my family their entire life, they have given nothing in return but pain, grief, and destruction toward me. Even more scary is that it can affect the Pride Lands. You are a cruel God who must be blind to the needs of this world. I recognize that I am powerless before you, but if there is one thing I can do against you, it is to make my complaint known by speaking it to the nation.  

Before Mufasa fell to his death, I tried once more to reason with him. The plan was not for
him to die. To the contrary, you know that it was simply scarto scare him into submission. No one is at grief more than I. It was the hardest decision of my life. Even then you could have saved him but you failed.  What do you have to say for yourself?  You have no answer.


Dear Scar,

my name is Leo. I am a head angel in Heaven writing this letter to you on behalf of our Father God, our Savior Jesus, and The Holy Spirit.

We have heard your complaint in Heaven and watched your life long before receiving your letter. The Father watched your life even before there was a second of it. You are worse than you think you are, but you are more loved than you can ever imagine you are. There are many things that you will not understand, but I will try:

In one way or another everyone on earth is just like you. You are the bitter cynic who cannot possibly understand the love between God and his creation. None of you understand. Your perspective of the very love that you claim to have for your brother is infected by your fallen heart. We know you loved your brother. No one “on Earth” loved Mufasa as much as you loved him. You loved him overbearingly so.

The feeling that you call love has ended in the death of your only brother and the estrangement of your nephew. And now you put God on the judgement seat?

Mufasa used to wake up in the mornings and stare at nature. He’d think to himself, “The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing – to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from – the place where I ought to have been born.” Do you think it all meant nothing, all that longing

What do you long for, Scar?

The Mountain that Mufasa longed for was The Kingdom of God. The Mountain you long for is one of yourself. Without the Divine Love which comes from God, any other love become corrupted. Any other type of love turns in on itself and becomes narcissistic. For example, without the presence of selfless divine love, the beautiful gift of erotic love becomes lust-based and power-based. This is when so marriages break down. fourLoves

The “joy-filled pride” for your brother turned in idolatry. It grew to the point of wanting him to be at a height of perfection that is unachievable on earth. Mufasa was always destined to be crippled in your eyes, no matter what philosophy he followed or action he implemented. Your love of the Pride Lands and every living creature in it drove your fear into manipulation and control.

Instead of following the God that Mufasa follows, you created your own version of God that only saw life how you see it. You have a wicked heart. The nature of sin isn’t always the obvious bad thing. Sin can also be the internal twisting of good things by the heart. You would rather kill your brother than have him attain joy apart from you.


Dear beloved Leo,

Had I known before how the Angels watch earth, I would’ve shuttered at the very thought of an audience to my humiliation. I now see that it was not they who treated me so wrongly, but me who treated others wrongly. I am my worst enemy – Not anyone else and certainly not God.

All my life I doubted the validity of the love which comes from Faith. For now all I can tell, the only difference [between our love and God’s love] is that what many on earth “feel” we call a real thing, and what only one feels we call a myth. But things that many feel may have no taste or moment in them at all, and things that are felt only to one may be waterspouts of truth from the very depth of Truth.

Now I see well why God did not speak to me and used you instead. Till the true understanding of love can be dug out of us, why should He listen to the babble that we think we mean? How can He talk to me about love till he gives me His love?

God is the answer to my question. In front of His love, all questions die away. What other answer would suffice?

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.

O, How They Danced

wedding 2wedding 1

The live band began to play as the newlyweds walked onto the floor for their first dance. O, how they danced. The young, twirling couple – a boy and a girl. Her head nuzzled into his cozy neck. His hand in her soft hair, clinging tightly. Her hand resting on his strong shoulders. His head slightly tilts toward her. The bystanders gawk as they watch the couple’s suave footwork. The wedding party watch as their friends prance the floor. The teary-eyed parents watch as their child has reached a new pinnacle in front of their eyes.

The couple, on the other hand, is unaware of their mannerisms and footwork. Neither can they recall the dance moves they are carrying out. They would be hard pressed to even remember the song that the live band is playing when the song ends. You see, they do not need music; their bodies find their own rhythm. They are lost in their own world – the boy and the girl. Their dance became one: a twirling, spiritual vibration invisible to the naked eye.

O, how they danced. Unbeknownst to anyone present … their dance is simply the first sketch of its true transcendence. The vibrations of their dance surpass the dance floor itself – pass through the ballroom – through the city – outward beyond the borders of Earth. The vibrations of their dance travel throughout the infinitesimally dense gravitational pull of every event horizon of every Black Hole in the universe, exploiting the laws of physics that we do not understand yet and ceasing the dimensions of space and time; cementing God’s plan as eternal. Divine Romance. Timeless. Holy. Fierce. Christ-like.wedding 4

The vibrations attain the job description of messengers. The divine vibrations surf across the edges of Hell as if to taunt Satan and boast in the new Holy matrimony. The demons cringe, shamefaced, as they are unable to stop God’s divine plan for the boy and the girl. Images of Joy and Beauty, shown from the flowing vibrations, flash across the outside walls of Hell, causing there to be a glimmering of light that is otherwise foreign to the occupants of Darkness. The light of Joy and Beauty fades away as quickly as it appeared.

The messaging vibrations of the couple’s dance are so tangible that the reflection of their footwork can be seen on the floors of Heaven. The vibrations swoop upward toward the Heavens, completely losing their worldliness and becoming something else entirely. It culminates into its true identity … GLORY, embodied!

The angels of Heaven celebrate another victory of the image of Jesus and His love for the Church being displayed through marriage. A beautiful symbol of glory. The angels leap and sing thanks to God for what he is doing. Saints of old joyfully laugh as they recall their wedding day back on earth. Moses and Noah smile as they remember their first dance.

The LORD is delighted.

O, how they danced. The girl whispers something faint into the boy’s ear. The onlookers imagine the melodic nothings being said. The bride and groom rest in each others gaze, sinking into the realization that they have become newness in time. Their love, their family, their future has switched from possibility to reality. Times of joy, future vacations, careers, evangelism efforts, children, grandchildren, and retirement parties are inevitable. Their future arguments, moments of stress, times of pain, and times of unknown are coming. But not tonight. Tonight, they can dance all night. And on this night, nearing sunset, the boy dips the girl and gives her a kiss.

O Goodness! How they danced! How great a blessing it is to find someone to dance with on the floors of eternity. Still, no one can see the spiritual vibrations of the dance. No one sees the spiritual messages flying around or its culmination toward Glory. No one sees the simultaneously wonderful effects it has on eternity and the Heavens. In due time, we will see. Until then, the boy watches the girl…the girl watches the boy…the friends watch…the parents watch. O, how they danced.  Divine Romance.  Timeless.  Holy.  Fierce.  Christ-like.  Sovereign.  GLORY.  O, how they danced. 

wedding 3

Why I Walk into Church with my Head Down: A Semi-Sexism Story

Tunnel vision. My motion, my focus, is analogous to that of a Nascar driver. Tunnel vision. I park my car, walk through the double doors, tread softly past the daycare commotion, dodge through the packs of chattering people, enter into the main sanctuary, and finally sit down with my eyes glaring toward the stage. My eyes are closed during the musical worship. During the sermon, my eyes are glued onto the preacher. I make sure I am on my best behavior.

This has become my socially systematic ritual in and around the church service. For almost two years I have been unintentionally trained to be careful around the wives – so much so, that my very personality and natural being is completely different on Sunday mornings. I no longer look at the wives or even try to initiate contact with the husbands so not to risk anything. I refrain from being my normally playful, outgoing self for the sake of others. A few times, I’ve actually avoided going to my church and attended somewhere else…just for a rest-break.

Now I love conservatism: theologically, politically, socially, and even in some professional sports. At the same time, I have found myself in a church culture that surpasses the “imaginary” line that should NOT be crossed. It couples ultra Christian-conservatism alongside the strange relational subculture of the seminarian culture and resulting into  fractured, unfulfilled relationships.

One way in which this fracture has overwhelmed me is the issue of women and men NOT being friends in the church.

I have been stressed with this social climate where many of the wives are timid around me and the husbands show possessive body language in front of me when their wives are present. This is not everyone. Neither do I believe that it is a conscious action by others either; to the contrary, it is a “subconscious” action. However, it still hurts us who go through this. It hurts to not be trusted. We are guilty before proven innocent. I can give NUMEROUS examples that I have been through: primarily face to face; also email and social media. Additionally, I have read books and am very cognizant of social norms, body language, and rapport. In church we may say the right words and use political correctness in our lingo… but our actions and communal fruit tell a completely different story.

For a female’s perspective, you can read this lovely article on The Gospel Coalition’s website.

There are at least 5 side effects of this fracture that risk a retardation of friendly relationships:

1)  It causes a nuance of loneliness: This loneliness grows into a feeling of being unwanted or removed from the body of believers. The scriptural illustration, 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, depicts the church as a body. If a finger is removed it does not keep growing or playing its part, now does it? No, it shrivels up and dies. In this case the joy of the individual becomes damaged.

2)  This causes a CHAIN REACTION into OTHER basic types of relationships: This climate becomes the air that everyone breathes. Soon, this standoff-ish nature becomes normal between everyone: between other married couples, singles, visitors and members. There have been social psychology studies to show that we will, in certain ways, conform to our environment. In our general case, relationships will become robotic. This can be seen in the decline of some linear, mathematical, doctrinal types of churches. Now I line up with these types of churches, but there still needs to be a line drawn. Otherwise relationships grow stale, empty and mechanical.

3)  It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: I fully understand we are called to steward our marriages. That is extremely biblical and good. But where is the line that keeps it from becoming fear-mongering. As I said in an earlier blog, some people “suddenly” lock their car doors when I walk past their cars. True, I am black. Statistically speaking, I cannot blame them at all for being extra careful. However, if we are in the suburbs and I am wearing tailored dress clothes with Cole Haan shoes … maaaybe you don’t need to be afraid of me. That said, if we’re supposed to brothers and sisters in Christ … maybe you can trust that I do not want to kiss your wife in the sanctuary and ask her out for coffee. This fear can lead into believing “something” happened before it ever did.

4)  Personal walks with God are affected: If I have to be a “different person” around married couples then I can begin (or Satan can begin) to tell myself that they do not truly know me. How can I can truly allow them inside my walk with Christ if they do not understand or know the real me?

5)  Both the image of the trinity and Gospel community are tainted: Between God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son…there is no hierarchy. Only delight. They freely give to one another and receive from one another. [John 1:18, 16:12-15, 17:3-5]. Therefore we, being made in that image, should being naturally copying that. We should delight in and celebrate each others strengths. We should spent time together [not limited to small group time]. As one pastor cautioned, “without this happening, subconscious frustration and jealousy will lead to overcritical spirits that will erode the foundation of deep intimacy in relationships.”

We know there is no perfect church. Maybe I shouldn’t bring this up about my own. I love my church and I love The Church. But would it not be hypocritical for me to have called out Joel Osteen’s church, single men, young people, the liberation gospel, lukewarm Christians, atheists, and even Michael Jordan in past blog posts… but then stay silent about a flaw in my own community? No way Jose. Nothing gets fixed if we do not discuss it.

Still, social media isn’t going to solve this. Small groups are not going to fix this. Social media plus Small groups does not equal biblical community. It will have to be pursued and fought for. People do not simply “fall” into deep community – they pursue it. We will have to surrender and sacrifice. And once this is attained … oh my how splendidly holy and beautiful it will look!!! May we care for the needs for one another. I pray that we commune deeply with one another. You know, to get a head start on eternity together.

A Pedophile’s Story in Heaven

It is the best of times. Although, in this place here, there actually is no such thing as time – There is only timeless eternity. Everyone is so filled with life and joy that tears could continually flow from our eyes – Albeit, there are no tears here. The perfection of the sun shines so brightly that there is not a single shadow created from the luminous light. Still, there actually is no sun here. We have the luxury of having the glory of God as our sun!

I rested in one of my favorite places: it has this title because I enjoy laying beside the tigers and the deer as they peacefully play together. This place is also my favorite because sometimes I can watch my daughter play football with other people. She was my daughter back on earth, but here she is ultimately and objectively seen as God’s daughter. Nonetheless, I still pleasure in proudly watching her play (especially as the quarterback). She always wanted to play with her older brothers back on earth, but was not strong nor fast enough to keep up. Here in the Kingdom, there is a removal of the physical advantages of the sexes. We all have powerful, heavenly ageless bodies.

On the last play of the game my daughter threw a bomb pass about 200 yards into the arms of her friend Josh who made a spectacular diving touchdown catch. My favorite part of his catch was that his impact did not even harm the grass underneath him. The grass here is unlike the weak, fragile earthly grass. In this place we see the true grass that God intended for creation, before The Fall. This grass is so firm that it cannot bent nor can be pulled from the ground itself! The beauty of the heavenly grass blades is greater than the grandeur of any waterfall back on earth. Goodness, it is impossible to fairly describe the epic waterfalls here in The Kingdom.

Josh and my daughter glided toward me in merriment. “Dad, did you see that catch! Josh here gets the MVP again. Show off” She jokingly pushed Josh’s arm. The young looking man just smiled and shook off the praise.

“Hey it’s almost time for the next banquet feast,” exclaimed Josh, with a sudden jolt of excitement. “If we leave now we can make the opening story given today”

The three of us headed over to the banquet feast. At the beginning of each banquet someone tells the crowd their story of how Jesus saved them back on earth. No story is ever too small. No story ever leaves us short of satiated praise of what God freely did for us. Afterwards we feast and drink in laughter.

One of the angels signaled for today’s speaker to come in front of the podium. The speaker spoke in a strong, educated English accent:

“Hello family. My name is Henry. I was once a university professor and happily married to a woman of 15 years. Neither of us knew Christ or even gave thought to him. On weekends my neighbors began asking me to watch over their adolescent son. The son was mentally disabled and helplessly mute. For 10 years I would periodically watch him. For 10 years I would sexual abuse this child. I rarely gave time to feel guilt or shame. Neither was I ever caught in my wrong doing. Eventually I earned another teaching job and we moved away. My marriage began to disintegrate and we eventually divorced.

I was left to myself. My life grew darker. A close friend begged that I should look to the Lord, but I despised the frivolity of the religious teachings that I learned in my youth. Regardless, my life reached the point where I was sinning at such a varsity level that I thought that there was no way that God could ever love me. Therefore, I dove headfirst into my sinning further and further. Until all I saw was the mirage of Hell itself.

In my 60th year, a homeless man stopped me as I walked to the store. I begrudgingly gave him a few seconds of my time. Instead of asking me for money, he went on unexpected rant about how Jesus had recently ‘saved him’. I wanted to walk away…however, his speech was curiously robust. Normally, I relate to intellectual dexterity yet he spoke with pure visceral emotion. For the first time in my life, I had heard. I heard. That day I bought a Bible and read until my eyelids were numb. I wrestled with the Lord and finally gave my life to Christ. I was infinitely lost and Jesus’ mercy grabbed me by the waist.

I prayed that God would show me my next steps. The following Sunday I joined a church family. The very next day the doctor informed me that I was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer with only three months to live. After crying for hours, the Spirit reminded me that my life was already not my own anymore – but rather, it was in God’s all along. My burdens lifted from that simple truth and led me to live the last three months of my life for Christ. When my new church family heard my full story, praise for God erupted. There was a major revival in the city and everyone was coming to Christ! What I, in my past life, intended for harm….God used for good. I now see that my past life was a mirage. What I saw as blurry darkness, I now clearly see the beauty of God’s redemption.

♪ ♪ ♪ I will forever praise him. The rhythms of his grace are extravagant. You are God. You are Good. You are Jesus ♫ ♫”

The Professor then signaled for someone else to rise. Everyone turned to see Josh, my daughter’s MVP wide receiver, stand up.

“This is Josh,” pronounced the Professor. “He is the young boy that I molested for ten years. His suffered greatly on earth. Nevertheless, God graciously saved both his life and mine. We are eternally grateful”.

Josh, who was once mentally disabled and mute…who lived a life of deformity – was no longer bound in that inescapable box. He now lives in holy paradise. His new body was from God.  He radiates God’s glory along with the rest of us. We all simultaneously rejoiced to God.

To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory forever and ever!!

The Good Surprise: Joyful Tears for Soldiers & Heaven

It will occur like a thief in the night. Or a sudden surprise knock of the door that changes our demeanor – whether good or bad. The mystery of surprise twists are captured in the best of movies. The genuine joy that can be gained from an undeserving, loving surprise practically outweighs any other combine of feelings. When surprise meets grace …. uncontrollable emotions ensue.

Once again, I have caught myself looking at YouTube videos of soldiers spontaneously coming home to surprise their loved ones. The look of awe and tearful incredulity by the family members is simply AMAZING (2:59 is my favorite). Question – How is it that I can empathize with the shock of the family members? No one in my family is overseas fighting for war. The closest that my family has experienced this was the first time that I came home for a visit after first leaving for college. That is an unfair comparison to someone that has been overseas for 8 continuous months and who’s life can be taken at any given second. Maybe the reason that I/we can resonate with the emotions presented in these videos is because at the deepest part of or being we KNOW that a greater day is coming when we shall feel the APEX of that emotion.

The Bible describes the day Jesus returns as impossible to be predicted or anticipated; not even by the angels (Mark 13:32). The day is described as a thief in the night and a flash (Matthew 24:26 and 1 Corinthians 15:52). To better paraphrase, the Bible says: “One day some of you will be looking at videos on Vine, some will be shopping at Whole Foods, a few will be washing dishes, playing in a football game, a few will be praying over their cancer-ridden child, some will be in the mission field, some will be joyfully skipping in the rain on their first date, some will be watching Netflix before bedtime, waters will be flowing, trees will be dying. Then suddenly, POOF, Jesus and all of his supremacy and glory will come down and do what He was destined to do for the sake of the Father.”

Now for the beauty:

In that moment, when we are facing this holy and supreme being, we will finally see just how infinitely undeserving we are to be with Him. We wouldn’t help but tremblingly bow down in His presence. As 2 Peter 13:10 describes, everything will be laid bare. In that moment, we will FULLY understand how “All of our righteous deeds are filthy rags”. As our life is reflected on in that instant, we’ll be aware how all our earthly “good” lacks in comparison to this epic God before us. Remember that time we read our Bible for quiet time? It does not match up. Remember the time we worshiped for hours? When we see God’s ultimate glory, we will realize that we should have worshiped infinitely longer.

Nothing we did or can do will protect or save us. It is in that instant where will FULLY see the importance of the cross. The magnitude of the love that was shown will blow us away. How can we speak? What emotions will we be feeling? For those that truly believe Christ is their Savior, we may hesitantly mutter something similar to this, “Oh my oh my, why are you choosing me??? Really?? Just crush me. I am dirty and damaged. I can’t even look at your bright perfection.” God, in his warm nature, will then happily tell us, “Jesus has made you clean. He has absorbed the curse and provided the perfection that your soul needed. No wrath for you. Come, join in the wedding supper of the lamb and see true paradise. Come celebrate with ALL my children.” [Galatians 3:13; 2 Peter 1:11]. After all the tears we will rejoice that the curse has been lifted. Mercy Grace Mercy Grace. Those times that you doubted Jesus was real = Grace. That time you were angry at God because of your mother’s terminal cancer = Grace. The staunch atheist that spent his whole life hating God, but in his last days he “genuinely” accepted the faith = Grace.

Oh the joy. The joy. The joy!! May we see and savor the supremacy of Jesus Christ. The One who loves us. Let us see that He is supreme over the missing Malaysian plane, over all universities, March Madness, all the internet, hurricanes, all of science, over Fox News & MSNBC, our jobs, over our stocks & investments, the Frozen soundtrack, EVERYTHING. Yes, currently this all feels abstract; but the writers of the Bible make it seem as if this is right around the corner. Let us dive into his warmth now. Let us put on his armor as we are warned to be watchful as the time approaches (Ephesians 6:13-18). With the same token … let us still enjoy these tearjerker YouTube videos. Honestly speaking, they are AWWWESOME!!

 

Here lies Jesus, King of the Jews: