Tuesday, October 14, 2014

4 Months Sober and Counting

It's been four months now. I can say that I'm seeing life a bit more clearly. I don't feel as much pressure to escape or be someone I'm not. I don't feel bombarded or weighed down. I don't feel like I have to try to make it on my own.

I feel like my power has been handed back to me. I can be me in spite of me. A burden has been lifted.

Most of you reading this know me and hopefully know that I don't have a substance abuse problem.

So what is it that I gave up?

Rap music.

Well, secular rap/hip hop that is. I've been listening to it for the better part of the last 20 years. I was told by my family that when I listened to this music it would change me. I acted different. Not a good different.

In high school I tried to find "Christian rap". To my disappointment there wasn't anything I would feel remotely comfortable telling people I listen to. DC Talk and Jars of Clay are aight but rap they are not. Those were my options at the time (90's). Needless to say, I indulged in the "rap of world". I've been listening to it ever since.

These songs promote promiscuity, lust, greed, materialism, self righteousness, sex trafficking, adultery, getting drunk, doing drugs, murder, hate, they degrade women, and more. As I filled my mind with these things as I was driving in my car and then tried to fill my mind with God doing Bible Studies at home or church I could literally feel the struggle to do and be what these songs say or to do or be what God says.

I couldn't continue to feed my mind and my heart with a little bit of each. I had to decide who or what I wanted to give myself fully to. I decided to quit secular rap. I felt like I lost a part of me. I love rap music. I love the beat. The sound. I just couldn't give up rap forever though.

There is a new movement changing the game. And it is changing it hard! What it is: rap by a Christian artist. What it isn't: Christian rap. Yes, there's a difference.

Lecrae, Andy Mineo, Social Club, Derek Minor, Trip Lee to name a just few. They are taking the world by storm! Andy Mineo's album Never Land hit the Billboard charts at #2. Yes the secular charts. Lecrae's album Anomaly hit the Billboard charts at #1 and he won a Grammy for one of his other albums. They are puttin out music that Christians and non believers alike want to listen to. They talk about real life issues and in no way water down their faith. It is music that anyone can relate to. It isn't just for Christians. It is for anyone that seeks truth and what is real.

Though they will most likely never read my blog, I am grateful for the 116 Clique, Gospel Gangstaz, and all of the rappers out there that are puttin out dope music that's real and doesn't lead me to lust after the things in this world that can't satisfy.

This song says what my heart feels. Imma tell the world!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Jesus Makes Me Uncomfortable

I consider myself an observer. I like to watch how things work or how people interact.

One thing I have been observing is this idea among Christians that God's grace allows us to do as we please with no consequences. As long as we love people then everything will be just fine. Claiming that Jesus only accepted and loved.

Unfortunately, that isn't exactly the example that Jesus gave us. Yes, he loved. Yes, he accepted. But, he also addressed the issue of sin. He is truth AND grace. He got angry when he witnessed people using the church to make money (Matthew 21:12-13). He confronted the adulteress woman about her current living conditions (John 4:1-26). Jesus befriend a tax collector - considered cheaters and thieves (Luke 19:1-9).

Those are only 3 examples. Jesus did not and does not have do-what-you-want-it's-cool attitude toward sin. All throughout scripture God promises us provision, protection, and communion with him should we commit our lives to him. Obedience is the key that give us access to the abundant life he has readily available for us.

When Jesus encountered individuals or groups there was always a discomfort there. Either you were uncomfortable with your sin and ran to Jesus for forgiveness OR you were uncomfortable with Jesus and you ran from him.

I believe with all my heart that we cannot encounter Jesus and remain comfortable. We cannot have a true relationship with him and willfully continue in a life that does not honor him.
The adulteress in John 4, after talking with Jesus, went and told the whole town about their conversation. Many of them became believers (John 4: 27-30, 39-42). Not only did the woman's life change, many of the people in her town came to know Jesus.

Jesus had dinner with the tax collector, Zacchaeus. The result of the encounter changed his life forever. Luke 19:8 says "But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look,Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Did you notice the phrase "here and now"? He could not continue in the lifestyle he had before because of his time with Jesus. He was no longer comfortable with being a crook.

If we say that we want to treat people the way the Jesus did then we have to follow his example. In order for us to know how Jesus lived and loved we must get to know him and his word. Jesus fully relied on the Holy Spirit, he interacted with (but was not influenced by) the lost, broken, and hopeless, and he loved them in such a way that they know the grace of God yet were not comfortable with sin. 

I pray for Jesus to make me uncomfortable with the things in my life that do not honor him. I get uncomfortable when I find my actions and thoughts are conforming to the pressures and influence of society and the widely accepted ways that go against the way God intends us to live. The Bible is God's word. It has stood the test of time. What he says stands true regardless of what the government or society or media tells us is right or acceptable.

To mold or water down or make comfortable the gospel to fit your lifestyle is no gospel at all.

Does Jesus make you uncomfortable?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What's next?

Hi there! Remember me? Ha!

So much has happened since my last blog. Let me fill you in.

I made forever memories with the kids in the Philippines. It takes but a thought of my time with them to put a warm smile on my face. I look forward to the day that we can be together forever. Along with all of the other incredible people I have met around the world!

After my time in the Philippines I spent two weeks in Thailand. Hang on. Let's back up a tad. While I was in the Philippines God began to challenge my faith. I have been in what I like to call a faith bubble most of my life. I grew up in church, have Christian friends, work(ed) at Christian schools, and moved to the Bible belt of America. But what would my faith look like if I was in a place where there was no faith in God? Would my faith be as strong as I believe it to be? Okay, now we can fast forward to Thailand. I had been pondering those questions for a good two months at this point. I get to Thailand and it hits me. This is a place with virtually no faith in Jesus. In fact, only 1% of Thailand puts their faith in Christ.

I couldn't ignore that Thailand is where my next stop will be. So how do I get there?

Step 1: Become a Missionary Associate
I recently became a Missionary Associate with the Assemblies of God! I have committed to a two year term. Shhh don't tell my mom! ;)

Step 2: Fund raise! I know, I know. The "f" word. It is as fun to do as it sounds. The truth of the matter is it has to be done. After my pre field training I began to see fundraising as an opportunity to meet and partner with people that are passionate about knowing Jesus and making him known, feeding the hungry, protecting the innocent, and about education.

I'm currently working part time. Why part time? To cover expenses while I'm stateside, put some funds into my missions account, and to have time to meet with people, pastors, and anyone who wants to hear about what I'm doing.

Lord willing, I will be leaving for Thailand in August. Please consider how you might partner with me. Prayer is crucial! Pray for wisdom, protection, provision, discernment, awareness, boldness, confidence, and anything else God puts on your heart. And of course there's the financial side of it. Monthly pledges are what's often referred to as "bread and butter". I will have monthly expenses - housing, language school, food, etc. Knowing that there will be something coming in each month gives any missionary peace of mind. There is no pledge or donation too small or too big.

Step 3: Move to Thailand!
In Thailand I will be working at a Community Center. I'll be teaching English, helping at feeding programs on the Myanmar border, helping with anti-human trafficking efforts, and of course building relationships with the students. I'll also be teaching English at an elementary school. Speaking English automatically qualifies you to teach it, right?

I even made some changes to the blog!

So that's an update on my life in a nutshell.

Eager to get me on the field? Click here to make your monthly pledge or a donation!