adventure, friendship, Life, Living, Thoughts

on the edge of the world

“Let’s go.”

“Where?”

“I don’t know. Everywhere. Nowhere. It doesn’t matter. Let’s get lost.”

Love and the Sea and Everything in Between


Last night, I went on an adventure with my best friend. My best friend had just finished reading Love and the Sea and Everything in Between and we were talking about how we both were free spirits, both with a desire to live life. He told me about how, in his younger days (granted, he’s only 26) he would just do whatever he wanted to do, no responsibilities, not a care in the world – nothing but freedom. And I told him how I’ve always had a free spirit, but something always got in the way. Whether it was work, family, school, or just life in general.

And so, feeling the wanderlust, we made a decision. We would get lost together. We would just drive and drive and go wherever we wanted. Do whatever we wanted. Be whoever we wanted.

So I drove us to the beach. I’d never driven to the beach before so I really had no idea where I was going. Nonetheless I drove and we talked the whole way there, discovering things about each other that we never knew before. It felt so good to be able to sit beside each other without distraction and just talk, enjoying the presence of one another. To know that each of us was all there, in that moment. Nothing else mattered.

We arrived at the beach and made our way up to Bodega Head, a cliff that overlooked the whole of the ocean. It was pitch black and, according to Roman, “creepy.” (He wasn’t wrong; it was freakin’ creepy out there.)

I parked at the overlook and turned off my headlights and stared out the windows for a second before climbing out into the wind. We could hear the roar of the ocean and the sky from inside the car. After a moment’s pause, we embraced the elements.

And we both looked up. The sky was extraordinary. It was the first time in my life that I’d ever seen the stars as clear as they were that night. I could see the Milky Way and how the stars clustered together in what could only be described as a cloud of light.

Looking back out toward the ocean I saw the foaming waves crash into the rocks and the cliffside. It was incredibly exhilarating. (Though, that might have been the bite of the cold wind.)

Neither my phone, nor Roman’s had a camera that could capture this moment. We were slightly disappointed, but in the end I’m thankful that I could experience that moment not through the lens of an iPhone camera, but with my own eyes. And with my own soul, I could feel the vibration of eternity.

Flashlights in hand to ensure we didn’t walk right off the mountain and into the sea, we made our way to the edge of the cliff, walking as close as we dared to the the drop off. There are no words to describe the wondrous awe induced by the way the starry night sky kissed the swelling ocean. Or the way the fog silhouetted the distant mountains.

I felt as though I was standing on the edge of the world. And I was, as Roman reminded me. I couldn’t stop smiling. I was filled with such utter wonder as could never be quenched as I stood between my best friend and the end of the world.

There’s something beautiful about sharing a moment like that with someone you care so deeply about. There’s something extraordinarily life-changing. I’ve tasted freedom and I’ve tasted wonder; and now I know that I need more.

I am starved for adventure.

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Roman and I
Christian Living, Life, Living, Ponderings, spirituality, Thoughts

the problem of evil

“Evil will continue to exist in spite of us, so it doesn’t matter what we do.”

Recently, I decided to watch The Purge with some friends. I wasn’t really sure what to expect except for the few reviews floating around the webosphere. What I got was a giant: “This pissed me the fuck off.”

I’m not even joking. Those were my words at the end of the movie. (Yes, I repented for my slip up in case you were worried.)

The reason why, though, is hard to explain. At the beginning of the movie one of my best friends said something to the effect of: “It would make sense for them to do this in real life.” Now, mind you this is one of my Christian friends. So I was confused because to me it sounded like they were condoning a heinous act such as “the purge” to occur. 

So I’m sitting there through the whole movie thinking – and saying – “you would honestly be okay with this happening?” Their response was merely: “Well, it basically already happens.”

While this is true, the dilemma arose within myself where I was forced to ask the question, “if evil exists in spite of our best efforts, do our efforts even matter?” I must say without doubt, “Yes. Yes, they absolutely matter.”

You see, God knew. He knew that evil would remain in the world even while His Redemption story unfolded. Even still, He sent His Son to continue that story. Two-thousand years later, evil still rages against the light, but that light does not die. Because the valiant struggle persists. Because there are still those who resist apathy and silence in the face of darkness. Because there are still those who know that the war is already won and there will only be one Victor in the end. Because there are still those who know that, in spite of the evil in our world (racism, murder, rape, all manner of violence), their efforts matter. Their efforts are the very means by which the light remains in this world.

The light is not yet gone. Until it is, our efforts matter. Our decisions, our allegiances, our opinions matter.

Yes, darkness is an enormous reality which we must face every day. But heaven is the greater reality. And, thank God, it is the reality in which I live.

Letters, Letters to My Future Soulmate, Life, Living, Love, Poetry, spirituality, Thoughts

letters to my future soulmate // the third

Mon amour,

Where are you? I’m waiting. Waiting for you to arrive. Waiting for that moment when you walk into the room and I know – just know  – this is it, this is the woman I’ve been waiting for. I’ve finally found you. I wait because when that moment comes, I want to remember exactly what it felt like. I want the moment I fell in love to be indelibly written upon on my heart. So that for the rest of our lives when we go through the hard times and the painful times and the dry times I can hold onto that feeling of first loves and it will carry us through.

Where are you? I’m floating. People tell me I need to learn to be happy loving myself first. That I need to figure myself out first. That maybe God’s going to make me wait longer so that I can keep growing. I’ve dreamt since before I can remember that I would find you and we would marry young. The same age my parents were when they married, in fact – 21. Well, here I am at 21 and you’re nowhere in sight. People tell me that maybe God’s going to make me wait. Three, five, ten more years. I’m not okay with that. Because I’m floating. My life is great. I have a great family and amazing friends. But my life isn’t moving. I’ve paused. And I’m frustrated because I can’t see my future. I can’t see you anywhere. I can’t see the family I’ve always wanted. All I can see is the lonely nights. And all I can hear is people telling me to trust God and I’m trying, but how do I do that when that means letting go of you. At least for now. Because there’s an empty place in my heart where my future belongs.

I don’t understand. Why does this generational curse linger upon me? Why am I forced into the stereotype by the millennial generation? They tell me, “You millennials are getting married older anyway. It’s okay.” No, it’s not okay. I’m different. I always have been. And I’m my own person. I don’t deserve to be confined by a group of people who are known for being lost. That’s not me. I know what I want. But I’m forced into waiting by a God who apparently thinks I’m not ready and I’m just supposed to be okay with that.

I’m angry and I’m learning to let go of you, to trust God. Because apparently that’s what I’m supposed to do. I know God hears my prayers, and sees my tears, and He feels the lonely nights. I know He wants to see me grow stronger. I don’t doubt that. But why does He have to crush me to do it? Why does He have to take the one dream I’ve always had and crush it?

I can only hope He knows what He’s doing. I can only hope He doesn’t forget me in the chaos. I can only hope whatever it is He’s making me wait for, it’s good. And I can only hope that I learn to trust Him in time.

But for now, I wait.

With love,

Yours

Christian Living, Life, Living, spirituality, Thoughts

when the Spirit breathes

If there’s one thing I know about God it’s that He loves to speak to the heart of the seeker. Even when I’m in a season of struggle, or pain, or temptation, or darkness He is faithful to speak when I consecrate myself to Him. I know there are some people who believe that God doesn’t speak anymore, that what’s written in Scripture is all He’ll ever speak to His people. Well, yes. And no.

I’ve found that God will often speak to me by putting an image or a phrase in my spirit and I’ll start to pray about it and think about it to try to figure out what He’s saying until finally it just clicks. The Spirit is very alive and real today, and He loves to be active in our lives. The interesting thing about it, though, is that we always have to line up what God’s saying (whether it’s a personal word, a prophetic word, a word of encouragement, etc…) with the Word of God. Why? Because that’s how we determine whether or not the word we’ve heard in our spirit is Holy Spirit or not. Holy Spirit will never undermine the Word of God because it is the plumb-line, the thing we measure our lives by.

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.”

– 1 John 4:1

Sometimes, the words He speaks aren’t even new revelations that have never been spoken; sometimes they’re revelations already hidden in the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit speaks to us until we discover them. There’s beauty in discovering the Living Word, in discovering Biblical truths through the breathings of the Holy Spirit. It reminds us that God is active and He is speaking and He loves us enough to not remain silent in the seasons of our life.

I’ve come to this point in my life where I’m being convicted of a lot of things. A few weeks ago, during a church conference, this was said: “Don’t let the standard touch the ground.” And immediately Holy Spirit started speaking to me, saying, “Why is it that so many believers are satisfied with holding the standard just high enough rather than holding it has high as possible?” From there, my life has been a constant cycle of discovering things about myself that need correction. Interestingly, immediately after returning from the conference my church began a series called “Re-Calibration”, examining Hebrew 2:1, which says,

“We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”

So basically what happens, is God starts speaking to me, telling me to fix some areas in my life that I’ve lowered the standard, and then my church launches into this journey of re-calibration, “fixing our drift.”

And it’s been hard. Correcting your course is hard, especially when you have to take a “hard left” from the direction you were going. As humans, we’re always drifting too; so we have to constantly fix our position. But one thing I’ve found is that whenever I fix my drift, whenever I fix my position, whenever I set my sails to the Spirit of God, He speaks, loud and clear. And through all this, the cry of my heart has simply been, “God, silence any noise that drowns out the sound of Your voice.”

I don’t want anything in my life to even bear the potential to silence God’s voice in my life. Like TV. How silly would it be to let television be the one thing that manages to silence God’s voice in my life? (No, I’m not giving up TV, though there are certain programs I, personally, have been convicted to give up.)

Believers these days shy away from the words “conviction” and “holiness” and “consecration.” They think that these words lack grace. The thing is, these words describe grace in action. When we’re convicted to consecrate our lives to the Lord, we finally make room for God to speak. God won’t move where He isn’t welcome. It is through the grace of God that Holy Spirit alerts us (through sermons, through song lyrics, through whisperings in our own spirits, through the words of trusted leaders, friends, and family…) of when we’re drifting. It is the grace of God that gives us the opportunity to fix our drift so that we can hear His voice loud and clear in our lives. It is not wrath that brings conviction, it is not legalism that teaches holiness; it’s grace.

I guess it comes down to whether or not we want to hear the Spirit breathe in our life. If we do, then there are some things we’ll have to set aside so that we can fix our drift. I, for one, have made up my mind.

I want to be ready, with heart open wide, for when the Spirit breathes.

Christian Living, Life, Living, Ponderings, spirituality, Thoughts

you can have your dead gods

You can have your boycotts and your protests and your marches. You can keep your rights and your opinions and your attitudes. You can tout your dead gods and old religions and rusty traditions. You can keep your comfort and your safe spaces and your happy feelings. You can stuff your ears with lies that make you feel good and words that feed your constantly shifting ideologies. You can fill your life with entertainment and pleasure and sensationalism and everything you could ever conceive of. You can have all this world – the fame, the fortune, the glamour, the rights, the freedom, the entitlements, the attitudes, the sex, the pride, the comfort, the ego, the power, the drugs, the anger, the tragedies, the chaos, the pain, the agony of constant wondering, the struggle, the insecurity, the sickness, the mental oppression, the physical and emotional addiction, the fear. You can have it all.

But me? Give me Jesus. He is all I want. He is all I need. He is everything. You can spend your life striving and striving for everything that you think will give you a moment’s happiness. But me? Give me Jesus. Give me just a moment longer in His presence. Give me that gripping deep inside my gut that causes me to fall to my knees in broken surrender as I realize just how heavy the burden of brokenness is on this weary world. Give me the tears that stream from my eyes as the faces of the lost and the hurting and the deceived and the broken flash across my mind because all I desire is for them to know the peace that I have come to know. Give me the sheer wonder I feel whenever He walks into the room, whenever He breathes revelation into my heart, whenever He speaks life into my soul, whenever He revives these dry bones. Give me the fire of His presence as He consumes me from the inside out with a passion that goes beyond emotion, but is a thing birthed inside my very DNA. Give me the freedom that comes when I have the courage to not settle for anything less than what comes next. Give me the liberty that comes when I toss the broken chains aside – the chains of grief, of fear, of insecurity, of shame, of pride, of rejection. Give me the joy that comes when I know that I am loved and I am chosen by the very creator of the cosmos. Give me the fearlessness that comes when I set myself aside long enough to let Holy Spirit open heaven inside of me. Give me the hope that secures me in this life, that allows me to not tremble with anxiety at the mention of the next disaster. Give me the confidence and the courage that comes from knowing that I don’t have to measure up to anyone or anything. Give me the Living God who laughs in the faces of the gods of wood, flesh, and stone as He performs miracles, signs, and wonders across the world while they sit on their shelves gathering dust.

You can have your dead godsBuddha, Allah, Odin, Self, pleasure, entertainment, fame, glamour, luxury, comfort, vanity, apathy, addiction, self-righteousness. But me? Give me the Calm in the Storm, the Prince of Peace, the Lover of my Soul, the Great I Am, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Abba Father, the Deliverer, the Strong Tower, the Cornerstone, the Living Flame of Love, the Bright and Morning Star, the Soon Coming King.

You can have all this world. But give me Jesus.

Christian Living, Life, Living, Thoughts

when the demons don’t die

It’s when you think you’ve won, that you discover you’ve really just reached an armistice – a moment of temporary peace. Then, you end up playing the fool.

I didn’t realize until this week that the demons of past failed relationships aren’t actually gone. Sure, I’ve healed for the most part. I mean, I used to cringe if someone even said the name of my former friends – even if said former friends aren’t the ones to whom the person is referring. I don’t anymore. I get sad sometimes, sure. But the gut-wrenching trauma and heartbreak is over.

Apparently, though, there are lasting affects to such things. Like, now I can’t seem to maintain a healthy, functional relationship with people as friends anymore without second-guessing everything. Now, I’m a completely dysfunctional moron who has to talk himself down when I start to overthink.

See, in recent months I’ve managed to find a sort of group in my church that I just clicked with. We call ourselves “The Squad.” I know. So original. In any case, despite our complete and utter subjugation to silly social cliches, we’ve spent a lot of time together, just hanging out, getting to know each other, watching movies, learning music together. It’s been great.

friends

And then this week, a feeling of dread and maybe a hint of cynicism laced the pit of my stomach. Maybe it’s because, thanks to “J.J.” and “O.R.” and several other people, I now have a completely dysfunctional outlook on friendships and have the hardest time maintaining a positive outlook.

As it turns out, the demons aren’t dead. Not yet, anyway. I mean, I still believe that someday, (soon, I hope) God will lift this burden completely off my shoulders.

But maybe that’s wishful thinking?

I guess, though, life’s just one long series of wishful thoughts. Why stop now?


 

P.S. – As I’m sure you can tell, this post was pretty emotionally charged. I won’t apologize. I hate my demons. I’m not going to fluff them up or try to make them seem inspirational or motivational with a quote or Scripture. I won’t patronize you or myself like that. Instead, I’ll just say this: don’t accept your demons. They don’t belong here. They’re ugly and they don’t belong here. And I hate them with all that I am because they destroy me.

And God’s the only One allowed to touch those parts of me.

Christian Living, Life, Living, Ponderings, Thoughts

a year without music

For the last few weeks leading up to the new year, something began to shift in me. I can’t place it exactly, but it was something spiritual. Now, a week into the new year, I think that maybe it was a process of healing, of clarity, of surrender. Something deep inside me is changed; I’m different than I was before.

And during that time, I began to feel a nudging in my spirit. At first, it was just that whenever I tried to listen to “secular” music, it didn’t feel right and I was unsettled. So I would give up and switch to one of my worship playlists. But it didn’t stop there. Instead, this nudging began to disturb me more, moving me out of a place I found comfortable.

And, after reading a fellow blogger’s post on a similar subject, I began to hear in my spirit that I should take this year – 2016 – and do a complete fast from secular music. Not all music. Just non-worship music.

Why? Well, I began to pray this in my spirit last week: “Lord, silence every noise that would drown out the sound of your voice.

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Sometimes, there’s so much noise in our lives. Maybe it’s busy schedules, hobbies, work, activities, too much leisure, or overthinking the simple things. So much of these seemingly harmless things (and others too) end up drowning out the sound of God’s voice in our lives. It’s like the dissonance that comes when you hit random notes on the piano with your left hand while trying to play Beethoven on your right. Consequently, these innocent things become harmful.

So that, I feel, is why I was led to make this decision. It seems drastic, I know, to embark on such a long-winded fast. But I’m desperate.

I’m desperate to hear His voice in my life. And I’m desperate for whatever He has for me. And I’m desperate for revival in my life, in my church, and in my city and nation. I’m desperate for more of God. I’m desperate for restoration. I’m desperate for empowerment to do the things God’s called me to do. I’m desperate for His raw and unfiltered love, truth, and grace.

There’s nothing I want more.

So, yeah, stepping away from secular music for the whole of 2016 may seem a little severe, but I don’t care. It pales in comparison to even a moment spent in His presence.

And there’s nothing I want more.