Friday, March 11, 2011

Escaping the Darkness

Four walls surround me, a roof is above me, a dark floor exists beneath my feet. The whole room is dark, a darkness so enveloping, so complete that not a speck of light can penetrate. I grope blindly about, trying to find my own way out, my eyes open, my fingers stretched out desperately. Occasionally a window opens next to me and I can glimpse a scene of life on the outside, of life with light ... with complete and utter joy. A smile graces my face as I can see ... for that one second ... a life without the darkness, without the fear. Within moments, the window closes again, leaving me in darkness; trying to find an opening ... a portal into that life. I feel like I'm alone as the darkness causes me to contemplate my thoughts, my actions of the past leading me to here. I realize the countless times that I've yearned to make the right choice, yet deliberately decided to support the opposite. The times I've been offered tickets out of this darkness yet said no. In the beginning, it didn't seem bad. The room was still brightly lit and I got what I wanted, no worse for wear. However over time, the light gradually began to disappear yet I could not understand it. I did not realize that it was gone until it was too late and my eyes were opened. And now that the darkness is nearly complete, I can't see my way around as clearly as I could when the light existed in this room. Soon after, I realize that there is a key to a door ... a door that will lead me out of here. I don't touch the key or even attempt to open the door. I can't say why but I feel a reluctance to touch it or use the door. Something keeps me from grasping hold of the key, turning the lock and opening the door, bringing me into freedom. A fear holds me as I read a note by the key. The note claims that a sacrifice is required ... a change of wills so to speak in order to use it. This note represents freedom however I cannot take it up. Using it requires me to make a sacrifice that I cannot, in my mind, make. After what seems like an eternity, I fall to my knees, desperate, weakened and broken as the deception that controlled my life for so long breaks free and I realize the true dark nature of my predicament. Suddenly however, the room becomes a shade lighter, and then another shade lighter and another as it slowly brightens. My heaving sobs cease, my tear streaked and weary face looks up and notices something different. I am not alone in this room. An individual stands there, darkness fleeing desperately before Him. He points me to the key and then the door. I shake my head stubbornly, yet I am left no other choice as I am trapped by the deception of my actions. There is no other option and the face shining down on me and decimating the darkness that surrounds me is so genuine, so pure. His face shines like the sun, a gentle look on His brow. Yet even though I see Him standing there, I cannot take hold of the key because I cannot ... will not give up my will to live. He stands there everlasting, eons pass and yet I will not recieve the key and He will not leave this room. I come to the edge of the void, my emotions, body and soul completely spent in my efforts to escape this prison. He still stands there offering the key. Finally I realize that He is not leaving and neither am I on my own actions. I lift my eyes once more, hope kindling like a blaze in my heart, wondering if after all this time, He is still there offering the key to life. He is. I finally understand that there is nothing I can or will be able to do to escape this prison. I've explored every option, every crevice, every niche of this room and the only way out is through this door ... the key to which has been in reach all this time. I struggle to my feet, He supports me. I stumble towards the key, He sustains me. My aching fingers grasp the key, their cold dead fingers struggling to grasp the key. His warm, firm hands, covers mine, closing the key within my grasp. A new strength floods through me as I realize what I am about to do, what He is about to do with me. My skeletal feet slowly trod towards the door, three times do i attempt to turn, yet His firm loving hand steers me back on track. One last burst of fear and apprehension floods my veins like ice water and I jerk away from Him. He allows me to but instead of walking away, He follows me, His hand still on my shoulder. Once I stray from the path however, I immediately am flooded with feelings of shame and the web of lies is stripped away. I realize what I've done and I fall to my feet. He lifts me up and pulls me into His embrace. I protest as I am unable to understand or fully comprehend how He can still care for me. He pulls me back towards the door and lifts my hand to the lock. I insert the key, His hand guiding my fingers. I turn the lock and gently push the door open. Light floods into the dark room, banishing the darkness and shadows away. Fresh air floods my lungs, light infuses my skin and I am cleansed fully and forevermore. His hand releases my shoulder yet He still stands behind me. I look back at Him and He nods, a jubilant grin on His shining face. I step forwards and my life explodes. My will is given to Him, my purpose is now to serve Him who has freed me from the darkness, my everlasting goal is to bring glory to He who has cared for me, destroyed the chains of darkness that enclosed me and brought me into His presence. Glory be to God! He is my life, my strength, my song.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Ocean Thoughts

Sorry I haven't posted for a while, I've been pretty busy with school and all. A week ago or so, a few friends and I went on a short backpacking trip for the weekend. We drove out to Shi Shi Beach on the Olympic Peninsula and hiked in from there. If you have not visited it out there before ... it's an absolute must! It's a fairly easy hike but muddy. The landscape though is definitely worth it! I woke up the following morning before all my friends did and so decided to take a leisurely hike around the beach. The night before, we arrived in the dark, and so I had not been able to take a look around yet. The morning was beautiful, the sky was blue and the clouds were virtually non-existent ... perfect weather for soul searching. Anywho, for some reason, as I looked around at all the beauty of God's creation, I began thinking of other forms of beauty that God had created ... surprise surprise, my mind turned to the ladies in my life. I can't exactly say why I began thinking this but I did. I began to survey the way I had treated any girl I've known and noticed how, unfortunately and to my regret, too often their physical appearance had played a role. I started thinking about how the different genders treat eachother in regard to their physical appearance. I have been told, supposedly, that women do not pay as much attention to what's on the outside as what's on the inside. I can remember countless time's when I've thanked God for making them that way. But then I began to think about why guys are thankful for that. It's because we want to end up with or be friends with someone physically beautiful and if they don't care "as much" about what we look like, then we can maybe marry or befriend "above our station" if you catch my drift. Then God hit me. That is so doggone selfish! We are thankful for the fact that they don't pay as much attention to the "wrappings" yet we ourselves use that as an excuse to ignore the gems within them. I realized that that whole idea is a one way benefit. Guys benefit because they may marry somone that, in physical beauty, they don't deserve but women, since guys are so visually oriented, are left in the mud. I felt so ashamed that I had acted this way, and God really laid it on my heart to change how I've been acting. Unfortunately, I am still by nature a guy, and so that visual nature will never be removed, however, with the daily encouraging and seeking of the Holy Spirit, I can hopefully keep my mind focused on how to treat women, the more Beautiful creation of God. And I am so so sorry for any young woman out there that I've treated differently based on their physical appearance. This will always be a learning point for me, as I imagine it is for every guy, however I am praying daily that I can learn to be more God focused in this area with "x-ray" vision that can see past the physical beauty and to the gem that exists within every woman's heart.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

This faith of ours

This faith of ours is quite simple.

"Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your hear. You shall teach them diligently to your songs and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NASB

"The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these." Mark 12:31
I think of another blog that I recently read. In one of the posts there is a little girl, under 10 years old and she is writing a letter to a girl her family supports in Guatemala. In this letter, out of all the things a youngster could possibly write, she writes "God is with you". Such wise and yet simple words that come from the mind of a young girl. It absolutely blew me away.

I know as much as the next guy that this may seem simple but it seems really hard. Is it though? Is it really so hard to yearn after God? To search for Him? To love others as ourselves? Or ... is it really hard shaking free of the lies and sinful practices of this world? I think that is where the answer lies. Many of us are trapped within a web of lies, perpetuated constantly by the world. Temptations bombard us at every street corner, in every relationship ... in the very fabric of our culture. We are walking through a warzone where unexpected things happen at every turn. Bombs are exploding, debris is falling, chaos is everywhere. And where do we find strength and protection? Too often in ourselves. I know I have. In  the midst of the smoke, the chaos, the exploding artillery shells, horrific happenings ... one man stands tall. His face and cloak shine and the destruction happening all around disintegrates when touched by His glory. He is reaching out His hand calling to us to grab on and hold on! Yet so often I find myself saying no. I may convince myself and others that I am but I soon realize when the facade is stripped away that I didn't. When we do grab on, God isn't going to shield us from the world. If He were to do that, then where would our testimony be? Who would we bring the gospel to? We're not withdrawn from the battle zone, just given a new mission.

February 5, 2011

The weekend so far, has been quite an experience for me... and I'm only on the second day of it. I've been on a journey of self-discovery, more appropriately called "God-discovery", for the past few weeks as I begin to realize that myself and the life I've lived hasn't been all scotch and chocolate. I've begun to realize that the life I've had personally, choices I've made, actions I've done, etc. has been filled with a lot of lies that I've believed for a long time. First off ... I live to bring glory and honor to God, not myself. Whenever I try to make myself more important, I always end up making a fool of myself .. huh funny how that works. :) Funny story: last month (I play monthly in our coop worship band that meets once a month) for worship I went to practice. Everything went fine the day of, we were sounding great, my guitar was in tune, everything was pretty good. Anyways, immediately after we played the ice breaker/opening game we went into worship. I got up on stage with the other worship team members and started playing ... bad news, my guitar somehow was horribly out of tune. I smiled and laughed it off and attempted to tune it on stage by myself by ear. Didn't work. I then tried tuning it quickly to the piano player. Thought I got it right but when I started playing once more, it still was really out of tune and so I just started playing ... thinking that it was worship ... It was about the heart and worshiping God not me and my playing ability. ANYWAYS ... I got halfway through the first song when one of the adult leaders comes up on stage, during worship, and asks me if there is any other guitar I can play with since mine sounds really bad. Luckily my friend had another guitar and so I switched to that and the service went great from there. Needless to say, I was utterly humiliated. Now this month. My guitar was fine for practice, the adult worship supervisor asked if my guitar was going to be fine this month and I confidently replied that it would be. During the games and intro, I even checked it 5 different times just to make sure. I wasn't going to have a repeat performance of last month. We start worship and wouldn't you know it my guitar wasn't in tune. Not as badly as last time but still not pretty. I didn't make eye contact with anybody in the audience, especially my other band members or the adult supervisor. I played through and it sounded ok but definitely off key. Well lets just say I was about ready to smash my guitar afterwards. Then I realized something. I asked God why this had happened, seemingly thinking He had something to do with it. The answer was in my motives. I realized that, due to a few other factors, I was trying my darnedest to look cool while on the worship band. I felt that I needed to show that I could hold my own at something (guitar) since many of my friends played guitar better than I. I wanted to impress people. My motives for worshiping and playing weren't right and so God completely humbled me. Now I think now that it was the heat that kept getting my guitar out of tune rather than God supernaturally untuning it but I can't help but think He had some part in allowing it to happen ... after all ... God knows all, sees all and plans all. He can use any circumstance for His purpose. Just another revelation that God's given me in recent days.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Love of God

If you look at any of the main deceptions that Satan uses today to pull people away from God (aka other religions), you notice one kinda huge difference ... God actually loves His creation. He doesn't just rule over it or tolerates it but actually genuinely cares for it. For us!
It reminds me of the lyrics to a song by Downhere

How many Kings

"Cause how many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
Only one did that for me."

I've been thinking a lot about this after reading the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers. God doesn't just make do with us ... He created us and "it was good". Now since then we've obviously lost our luster as we have spat in His face and rebelled at every turn in the road but still He loves us. In the third book, one of the characters is a German warrior, very much into honor, courage, battle, etc. Another character, a devote Christian young woman, is trying to explain her faith to this "savage". Atretes, the German, laughs at God, viewing Him as a weakling because He gave up His throne, His power, allowed Himself to die a criminal's death, and doesn't always save the lives of His followers if it is their time to die. Thinking about this, I began to realize that in our human mindset, that can be viewed as weakness but in light of Who God is and what He can do, it is strength, forgiveness and over all love! How many human kings, emperors, "gods" have given up their station in life, their kingdoms, even their life to save a worthless, undeserving race? None! This idea makes no sense to the world but yet to us it does! He is a loving God and we are hopelessly undeserving of that love. We can never bridge the gap between our faithlessness and His faithfullness, our depravity and His holiness. We don't deserve it and that's almost the best part! It's a gift and as we don't deserve it can't we appreciate it and thank God every second for it even more? It's all on Him to save us, we're stuck in our mire and unless we recognize that He is God, we can't understand Him and His ways anywhere near fully, we will be stuck forever and drown in our own faithlessness.

Another random thought- It's ridiculously hard to argue with a Christian who is seeking after God with their whole heart ... why? Because they don't always have to have the answer and so can just say, God has his reasons. And if we truly believe that then that stubborn faith will prevail: boggling the minds and beliefs of emperors, peasants, everyone in between.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

God is in control

In my geography class lately, we've been discussing Africa. A main point that we have been talking about are the slums and poverty in Africa. How Africa 's history has been riddled with slavery, poverty, sickness, starvation, war, etc. First off, I became really depressed because I felt that there was nothing anybody on earth could really do to alleviate their problems. Thousands of people and governments have tried and ... minimal positive results seem to be the recurring theme. I began wishing I could go down there and help out in any way I could, any way that God would lead me ... but shortly after reaching this conclusion, I was reminded of all the diseases down there, AIDS, yellow fever, malaria, plus all the killing. Needless to say, I didn't really want to go down there any more because I really didn't want to die. But then a thunderbolt hit me. If God has my days ordained for me, I won't die one second before I'm meant to. My brothers and sisters in Christ have lived with these problems their whole lives and still manage to worship God through it all. and I'm afraid of going down there and dying!? Anyways I started to wonder what hope could there be when another thunderbolt hit me. GOD IS THEIR HOPE! No matter what struggles or tribulations they face on a day by day situation, when there is little hope ... who do you turn to? in whom do you have hope? GOD! I realized that salvation is the hope! Somewhat elementary I know, but its so true and yet so simple. God can provide a joy, a purpose for living that transcends all physical nature! No matter what disease, what war, whatever, the lasting joy of a faith in God and his sacrifice for us is the hope for the future! Now, I'm writing this from my room, from a rather spacious house, in the most luxurious nation on earth and so I know that I don't have a good perspective on this. But ... just take a look at the apostles! The persecuted believers in other nations. History shouts out the names of people who faced persecution, disease, killing yet still worshiped God through it all! He is our hope, He is our salvation, He is our life and reason for living. Without Him, life is meaningless and without the hope of Christ, the world and problem of poverty does seem hopeless. While I believe that we try our best to eradicate poverty and disease, I think the answer is much greater than than that yet so much simpler. It's simple, we are all desperately searching for cures for diseases, money to relieve poverty, peace to stop the wars ... yet we've found the answer in a little book that is oddly enough in millions of homes around the world. We just haven't known where to look. Nothing new but something that God opened my eyes to today.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Now first off, I have really no clue what I am going to be writing about in the weeks ahead but we shall see what God tells me to write ... this should be interesting. Anyways, I've been thinking a lot lately about my station in life, my relationship with God, my hopes, dreams and goals for the future and I've come to realize one thing ... as a human being I am so screwed up and I am ever so glad for God's grace and forgiveness each and every day that enables me to live day in and day out. I am very thankful for those days and that he doesn't strike me dead on the spot. But I have finally come to the point where I've realized something needs to change. I've limped along for the past 17 years, trying to do my best, faking where I couldn't that  I realized ... I simply need to change ... for real. So God please help me change ... my life, my relationship with you, my relationships with others, that number when you step on a scale, and anything else that I realize needs to change for the better. Please guide my actions as I go through this process of refining and searching for you wherever I go. Learning to live simply with you at the helm ... your wind in my sails, blowing me to who knows where ... I want to learn to trust you ... so ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... heave anchor and set sail!