Update From the East Side

I know I said in my last post that I wouldn’t write for four months, but I have a few spare minutes in Starbucks with my teammate’s laptop, so…

For the past month, I have been traveling all over the Middle Colonies as a representative for Pensacola Christian College on Proclaim’s Drama Ministry Team. We have been doing services in many Churches and Youth Groups almost every day except Monday. It has been a blur, to say the least, and God has been flooding me with wisdom from Pastors and elders.

What has God been teaching me thus far?

The first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. And 1st John says that we love Him because He first loved us.

If you water a plant and keep it under sunlight, it can’t help but grow. Therefore, the key to spiritual growth is to constantly be watered by the Word of God, focusing on the Light of the world.

I know it’s simple, but I’d rather get my master’s in Christianity 101. #win

The Body (of Christ)

Suppose there was a person who quickly fell and died.
Maybe part of who he was said “innocent!” but lied.

So..

What if his hands said to his feet,
“We’re jealous of your toes,”
And in so doing forgot that
They’re holding a fire hose.

What if his toes said to his eyes,
“We’re jealous of your sight,”
And in so doing forgot that
They’re running in a fight.

What if his eyes said to his heart,
“We’re jealous of your beat,”
And in so doing forgot that
They’re spotting dangerous heat.

What if his heart said to his tongue,
“I’m jealous of your voice,”
And in so doing forgot that
It’s sustaining every choice.

What if his tongue said to his brain,
“I’m jealous of your head,”
And in so doing forgot that
It’s a spokesman aforesaid.

Maybe such is how he died:
His body parts were proud.
We’ll never know, but maybe so,
Could it be said too loud?

This past week, God has been teaching me how to appreciate the body of Christ. I have previously struggled with being jealous of others’ walk with God, envying different traits of theirs and how God has built them when that is actually pride. He has been teaching me to appreciate others’ walk with God and look at their spiritual lives for encouragement. We may be running a race, but this isn’t a competition with each other. We are a team, a unified body. We are to look to Jesus Christ, the author, and finisher of our faith, and push each other to Him, regardless of where we are or they are in the race.

It is a wonderful thing when the body of Christ is simply.. the body of Christ.

Onward March

I cannot begin to describe the spiritual warfare that has taken place since last Saturday. God has moved in my life and in all of my friends’ lives, and from the moment God first moved, the enemy picked up pace and charged straight ahead.

I have felt it: the weight of the enemy surrounding me and whispering lies into my ear. Often the enemy has simply reminded me of situations that I’m in. Statements of fact. “Remember, this is going on.” “Just think back to this..” “Don’t forget this is happening!” And there have been days where I have crumbled beneath the pressure.

“Wow! That’s right! This is going on! Oh, no! I don’t see Jesus in this! God! Help me! Please!”

But listen..

Never observe how high the waves are.
Never pay attention to how hard the wind is blowing.
Never take thought as to how dark the clouds are.
Never think through the laws of physics.

Only look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, and walk on water!

I can honestly say with all my heart that Jesus is winning. He has already won. He said, “It is finished!” and He meant it! Tomorrow will be just as painful as today, but that doesn’t meant my Savior doesn’t live inside of me and ever lives to intercede for me. Spiritual warfare is an adventure when Jesus is the one fighting. He is a man of war. He never loses a single battle.

As for Satan, he is a prince of lies. Nothing he can ever say is 100% truth. What God’s Word says is fact. What He promises will come to pass. He knows what He is doing. There is nothing that He does not know. There is nothing that He is not in complete control of. His Word is all I need to know, and prayer fills in the gaps.

I look forward to arriving in heaven and hearing heaven’s perspective on these transpiring events. It will be grand beyond compare.

As for today? Well..

Onward march!

Faith

In Scripture, the facts of the Gospel are obvious. What we have in Christ is very clear. “For ye are dead to sin” is Christianity 101. Yet in our (my) life, there is a contrast. “Why am I not what the Bible says I am in Christ?” What is the kink in the system, the jam in the gears, or the clog in the pipes?

The first and greatest commandment is to love God. Then, “of faith, hope, and love, the greatest of these is love.” Yet, although the foundation of a relationship is love, how can the relationship function without faith? Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Therefore! Without faith there is no substance and there is no evidence!

Many of us moan and grown about the lack of substance and evidence the Bible says we have in Christ, yet we neglect the lack of faith in God’s Word. We will never know the substance of what we have in Christ until we first accept it by faith.

The Bible is always talking about doing things through Christ. How does that work? It’s like an oven-mitten. We can’t grab a red-hot pan out of an oven with our bare hands, so we need to grab the red-hot pain through an oven-mitten! Here is the big question: how do we put the oven-mitten on?! Faith! You don’t have joy? Laugh it off and thank the risen Lord for the joy that you have in Him! You don’t have peace? Laugh it off and thank the risen Lord for the peace that you have in Him!

We are always told in Scripture to pray with thanksgiving! Why? Because you can only be thankful for what you already have, and to do so is nothing less than exercising faith.

Praise the Lord for the simplicity of the person of Jesus Christ.

It’s already there. Be thankful.

When The Sky Comes Falling Down

At college, my group of friends and I got an idea to write our own story. We’ve been building a world from scratch, writing plot-line details, and creating our own characters. This is the sketch for my personal character.

A crowd of rowdy men was gathered around various, rickety tables within a dark, inn tavern. The counter towards the back was lined with disoriented, hulking drunkards discussing subjects of all sorts, ranging from dirty politics to the latest street gossip. There were no windows to reveal the faint rays of sunlight receding from the twilight sky; and thus being the night was afoot, little good waited within the shadows of Trevethan.

As business carried on, three men discreetly entered the tavern and found a table at the far corner, across from the entrance. The moment they sat down, an enormous man from across the room looked over his shoulder and paused. With an aura of disbelief, he stood up with widening eyes and let out a heavy laugh. With a confused smile on his face, the man weaved his way through the packed tables, walked up to the three men, and slammed his fist on the rotting wood.

“Three weeks! Three weeks and you all have the audacity to come back alive! We couldn’t find any of you! We assumed you were dead!” Of the three men, one had a long cloak, and the other two wore dark, military uniforms. The cloaked man reclined back with a grin and replied, “Stake-outs are quite something, they never turn out how you expect them to.” The man in front of the table straightened his back and squinted his eyes. Crossing his arms, he lowered his head and snuffed out, “What happened?” It was obvious from apparel that the cloaked man was the leader of the other two sitting to his left and right. The soldier on the left muffled a laugh, while the other took a deep, nervous breath. “After a week,” explained the cloaked man, “we concluded that the premises was vacant. We then proceeded to scout the area to search for any clues of our targets’ whereabouts.”

The large man grabbed a chair from a nearby table, pulled it up, and sat down with a serious demeanor. The cloaked man leaned up from his reclined position and placed his elbows on the wooden surface, reflecting the aura of the man across from him. “We were ambushed. There were others after our targets as well. As for us, we were at the right place at the wrong time. Outmanned and outgunned, they took us hostage to interrogate us about what we knew.” He hesitated after finishing his sentence, as a smirk grew on his face. “Why are you smiling?!” the man retorted. “Hah! What could we tell them?!” “So, then-“ “How did we escape?” interrupted the cloaked man. The large man nodded with interest. “Let’s just say –  they left the back door unlocked.”

As the cloaked man finished speaking, he spotted something across the room. He could see, just above the large man’s right shoulder, an arm lifting with a handgun, and out of reflex, the cloaked man quickly and intensely spoke, “Down!” With a unified downward motion, all four of the men instantly veered downward as a CRACK resounded across the whole tavern, and a bolt of electricity whizzed right over their heads. In an instant, the cloaked man hurled himself over the table and burst across the tavern. He knew the shot was meant for them, and he knew it was an experienced marksman because the bullet passed through an entire tavern full of drunkards.

Lunging through the back door, he was able to see the backside of the shooter dash out of the dark alley. “Sky!” shouted one of the soldiers running across the tavern, but it was too late; he was already at the end of the alley, turning into the street. The chase had begun.

He could see the shooter dashing through the filthy streets. Although it was night, there were still civilians walking about, and a shot from ground level would be risky at best. Risking loss of ground, Sky rushed to the nearest side wall and climbed with all haste to the rooftops. He instantly spotted the man sprinting through the dispersed crowd. Quick on his feet, running and leaping from roof to roof, he was slowly but surely gaining on him. They were nearing the outskirts of Trevethan, which meant that he had to act soon.

Unbeknownst to the man, his pursuer was almost parallel with him as both of them neared a clearing outside of the town. Bounding onto the final rooftop, Sky, with one last burst of speed, leaped off of the roof, throwing his knife full speed at the man’s leg while in mid-air, and pounced on him. The man, thrown forward by the downward force, rolled away from Sky and let out a shout of pain as he stood up and pulled the knife out of his leg. Chucking it to the ground, the man drew a blade from his side and bolted towards Sky to stab him. Sky, reaching behind his back, drew a bow-blade and quickly spun around, dodging his foe’s lunge. With the momentum of his spin, Sky swung towards the man’s shoulder, but he deflected it – just barely, and with a shove forward, the man stumbled backward gasping for air.

Sky observed the man’s face in the moonlight and tilted his head in confusion. “I don’t know who you are.” The man stumbled to the side and clenched his leg in an attempt to stop the bleeding. “It was because of you that my friends are dead!” grunted the wounded man. “Which friends?” “The Wrythom brothers!” Sky’s knuckles grew white as he clenched his bow blade even tighter. “They were serial killers.” “They loved me!” “They were insane.” “They were family!” “They were dealt justice.” The man glared at Sky who took a step back to soak in the absurdity of this man’s mind.

As this dialogue was taking place, Sky heard the sound of electricity building up, followed by a ZAP, but before he could react, he felt a surge of pain come from his lower right back from the impact of a bolt. Falling forward, he was able to recover one-eighty degrees just in time to see another man twenty yards away in the moonlight. Without hesitating, he drew his handgun and, before the man could shoot again, shot his shooter hand. The man, though in intense pain from his badly wounded hand, reached to pull out a second gun. Sky, seeing this motive, and knowing his gun’s cool-down would be a few seconds too long, dived for his knife two yards away, picked it up while rolling forward, and exploding upwards, flung it eighteen yards, burying it in the man’s heart. Sky’s core undergarment was impenetrable, yet he could tell at least a few ribs were broken.

After taking mental note of his wounds, he turned around to see his original foe had gained a good amount of distance up a nearby hill and had just reached an abandoned four-story storage house by the edge of a river. With a scowl, Sky mumbled to himself, “Two can play this game,” and he began his ascent.

Reaching the abandoned storage house, he crept up to the side of the front entrance. He moved alongside the storage house until he reached the corner, and looking over to the other side, he spotted an inconspicuous, secondary entrance. Backing against the wall, he side-stepped until he reached the door; he then slowly twitched the handle to see if it was unlocked, which it was. As carefully as ever, he opened the door just enough so he had room to slip in. The main floor was concrete, and boxes were stacked up against the walls. “He must be on the upper floors,” he thought to himself, “Simple rules of a solid ambush: stay in the dark, stay in the quiet, stay where they’ll come, then kill.”

Noiselessly gliding to the far wall, he crept up the stairs, and when halfway up, he examined the second floor. Though dark, he could tell it was clear. Calmly stepping onto the second floor, he leaned back against a large door. The locking mechanism that had once kept it shut was completely broken, so when his back tapped it ever so slightly, it swung open to the river behind him. He turned around to look down at the rushing waters from two stories up. It appeared that at one point, a bridge connected the storage house to the opposite side of the river, but it was no longer there. Turning back around, he paused to take in the situation and strategize as to how he would overcome his new foe.

It was then that he felt a drop of something on his right shoulder. Looking down to what dropped, he rubbed his finger against the liquid, smelled it, and then tapped it against his tongue. Blood. He looked up to the floorboards above him, and hearing a few creaks above the sound of rushing water, he realized that his foe was directly over him. Nonetheless, he still did not have a clear shot from below; the man was in subtle motion, and a shot missed would give away his position and make the situation worse. That’s when he recalled the architectural layout of the storage house. There would be a window behind the man as well. Looking back down to the dusty concrete in front of him, he noticed something across the room: a steam generator with electrically wired pipes running up to the roof.

His strategy was set. Sky, drawing his two bow-blades from under his cloak, connected them with a mechanical maneuver, attaching the string with an effortless motion. He then took his handgun and held it in the same hand that held his bow. With his back to the open doorway above the river, he aimed his bow and handgun towards the generator. Pulling the trigger, a bolt of electricity quickly caused an explosion, sending flames shooting up to the roof. He drew an arrow, pulled the bowstring back as far as he could, and then leaned all of his weight backward. Solid as stone, smooth as air, falling in reverse to a ninety-degree angle, gravity pulled him towards the river in slow motion. As the fire illuminated the man about to jump out of the window to safety, he looked down to the river, and his last sight was that of an oncoming arrow. As for Sky, before he could reposition his body-weight to sleekly dive into the river, the water slammed against his upper torso, unwrapping its slithery arms around his rag-doll state, carrying him down the river.

Darkness. Silence. Silence? No, there was a sound: a familiar sound. The sound of an angry crowd was hollering about something. A haze came into vision; a blur etched itself into sight. Six men stood lined up on a scaffold. The scaffold stood in the middle of a town square, and from the looks of the crowd surrounding them, they were thieves, criminals, and murderers. These men had something very horrific to do with this town. The atmosphere of the people held tears of lost family, fumes of revenge, and shouts for justice. It appeared that these men had stolen, killed, and escaped this town, yet were later captured, and now they faced their judgment.

Towards the back of the crowd stood a young boy with an escort. He was maybe thirteen years old, and his clothing was that of military order. The man escorting him must have been one of his commanders from boarding school. These were the men that killed his family, and streaming down the boy’s eyes were the tears of regret. If only he had been home, he could have helped his father protect his mother and two sisters. None the less, it was all done and past, and as the nooses surrounded the six men’s necks, with one final shout from the angry town, the lower boards dropped.

The boy jolted his head downwards, shutting his eyes in grief, horror, and pain. After a few, long, agonizing moments, he opened his eyes, and a fresh burst of sunlight flashed against his contracted pupils. He was soaking wet, lying on rocks beside a river. Cloak completely saturated with water, knife and handgun missing, bow thirty yards down the river, he understood where he was and began to recollect what happened the night before. The shiver up his spine wasn’t necessarily from the cold, but more-so from the reoccurring memory that never ceases to haunt his dreams. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth; men who commit a crime should never escape the consequences of their decisions. And apart from the law, he will never cease to regret not being there for his family. Notwithstanding, he stumbled to his feet and winced at the pain in his lower back.

Regardless of his present state, he walked down the riverside and grabbed his bow, then began to sluggishly walk back to town. Slowly detaching his bow and placing the two bow-blades in position behind his cloak, a nagging sense of nostalgia preyed upon his trek back to Trevethan. Reaffirmed that his duty to protect others will never be fulfilled, it must still be pursued at all cost.

If not for the sake of others,
For the sake of his family.

Gavin and Evangelism

So I was sitting in front of Starbucks praying about what God wanted me to write when a middle-aged man stopped in front of me and stared. According to gut reaction and social etiquette, I closed my laptop and said hello. His name was Gavin, and it didn’t take long to realize that he had a mental disorder. His mother had dropped him off at the mall with the intention of picking him up at a later time, and I suppose he just wanted someone to talk to.

Leading up to this moment, God has been working on my heart for quite some time. He’s been giving me a burden about something I’m not proud of: not having a burden for souls. Call me unspiritual, but I’m calling a spade of spades and being honest. There are souls going to hell, and my heart barely skips a beat. I walk through the public and have a remnant of sadness because few know Christ, but is there a burden to break down in tears and weep because the God of the universe has made Himself known in the flesh and many don’t even realize the fact?

No.

The college I’m at runs ministry opportunities called “Christian Services” which are largely evangelistic. This semester is the first time that I have actually done Christian Service and gone out to evangelize, but the real question is this: when I’m not on Christian Service, not on the clock, not receiving collegian points, am I still reaching for souls? It all comes down to this question: do I truly know the heart of God?

No.

Because if I did know the heart of God, I would be moved to action. Why? Jesus was moved to action and He died. But here is where I want you, the reader, to connect. I want to know the heart of God. The heart of God comes down to one thing: Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And if the heart of God revolves around Jesus Christ and Him crucified, what’s the one way to know the heart of God? Simple. Revolve everything in life around Jesus Christ and Him crucified. How does that happen? Day in and day out, it is meditating on who Jesus is and what He has done. It is praying without ceasing and striving to know Jesus Christ more than ever before. It is nothing less than picking up the cross and following Him in moment by moment situations.

Now, back to Gavin.

For whatever reason, it was a divine appointment. He knew who Jesus was and could agree with everything that I was saying about Him, but as I explained who Jesus was to me and what He has done in my life, I could see something turning in His soul, as though he had seen something that he had never seen before.

What’s this turning? Read through the history of those dead guys who carried the heart of God. They didn’t just speak about God. God spoke through them. Wherever they went, people saw God! Charles Spurgeon would walk into a town, and the very sight of him would convict people. John Hyde would come out of prayer with a state of soul that would bring people to tears within minutes. To tell the Gospel is only half the battle; the world is in desperate need of people who are living the Gospel.

I’m a Christian, and yet I’m not where I ought to be, but God answers prayer, and because God’s burdened me to pray about not having a burden, I can count on the fact that He is on His way to weighing down my soul with His heart!

Even then, to tell people the Gospel is sheer obedience, whether I feel like it or not. He commanded it.

It was just as much a conviction to type this as it probably was to read.

We need You, Jesus.

Jesus Moves Most Under Attack

This past week has been an adventure.
Every day has been an uphill battle.
Every hour has been a challenge.
Every moment has held high stakes.

I’m under attack.

The enemy has one strategy: distract at all cost!
When sight of Jesus Christ and Him crucified is lost,
Even if it is for one week, day, hour, or moment,
The enemy has free reign to wreak havoc galore!

I’m under attack.

The enemy attacks the awakened.
The enemy attacks the visionary.
The enemy attacks the moving.
The enemy attacks the offensive.

I’m under attack.

This week I was distracted many times.
This week I stumbled many times.
This week I failed many times.
This week I lost many battles.

I’m under attack.

This week Jesus was more faithful than my unfaithfulness!
This week Jesus picked me up every single time I fell!
This week Jesus succeeded more than my failure!
This week Jesus won more battles than my losses!

Jesus is moving.

This week was stock full of Jesus being Jesus!
This week was stock full of complete one-eighties!
This week was stock full of prayers being answered!
This week was stock full of epic victories!

Jesus is moving.

This week Jesus proved omniscient!
This week Jesus proved omnipresent!
This week Jesus proved omnipotent!
This week Jesus proved victorious!

Jesus is moving.

This week God taught me how to look to Him when I’m down.
No matter how much the enemy may attempt to destroy me,
Jesus Christ and Him crucified is the solid rock higher than I.
And though ten thousand encamp against me, I will not fear, because..

Jesus is moving.