Thank You, Nabeel Qureshi

Photo Cred: (1)

Dear Dr. Nabeel Qureshi,

Recently, the world has been at a loss for words on your tragic passing from this life into the better life to come for all who follow Christ. You had a long fight with stomach cancer and now you have entered into eternal rest with our LORD. Those that knew you mourn your loss, but also know that you are in a far greater place than we could ever imagine.

With that said, your recent transition from this earthly life into eternal life has caused me to reflect on your impact on my life. How I was first introduced to you through Dr. David Wood and his ministry on YouTube that uses apologetics to reach the Muslim community. A ministry that might just have the greatest bromance in apologetic history as well. The friendship that you and David had in the LORD was unparalleled. You both displayed what it truly means to have a brother in Christ.

It was these moments and more that you showed all of us how to speak the truth in love in a practical way. Like when you had a formal debate with the famous Muslim apologist, Dr. Shabir Ally (2). A highly respectable figure within academia and a great debater, to say the least. Even then, you stayed civil and Christ-like in spite of the challenge of debating such an accomplished public speaker like Ally.

The greatest lesson you showed me was to always have compassion and love for those who do not know Christ. To build a bridge and reach people where they are at was so inspiring. To love people like Christ did was evidence enough of how much Jesus has changed you to be more and more conformed to His image. I have never met you on this side of eternity, but I can’t wait to meet you on the other side.

In short, thank you. Thank you for being a role model to apologists on how to intellectually engage others in love. Thank you for showing us believers what it truly means to live both a life of conviction concerning the great commission and joy in the grace of our LORD. Thank you for showing non-believers what it means to truly love your enemies as you loved those that hated you for leaving Islam. Thank you, Nabeel Qureshi. You may have lost the battle with cancer, but Christ has won your soul. Rest in peace, Dr. Qureshi. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. David Wood (Facebook)
  2. https://youtu.be/FWpqqqZn7Kg
  3. Disclaimer
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Who Is Chris Cribari?

Photo Cred: David Dehtyaryuk

For those of you that are new to this blog and since I’m closing in on 50 blog-posts pretty soon, I figured it might be time to reintroduce myself to all of you that tune in to read my latest writings. I could just be some internet troll that loves candy. Or the Zodiac killer. Anyways, as the title states, who is Chris Cribari? Who am I exactly? Well, here is a little about myself and what makes me who I am today.

I grew up in SoCal (Southern California) for the first ten years of my life and then my family moved to Colorado in 2007 for my Dad’s job where I have grown up for the last ten years. I’m a Californian, but my heart is in Colorado. I was raised by former Christian missionaries who brought up my four siblings and I in the Calvary Chapel Movement. My parents grew up in very different, non-Christian homes which directly influenced their strong emphasis on a family established on Christ first and foremost. My Dad grew up as a Catholic in an Italian home on the Southern end of California, while my Mom grew up in a family of liberal, pluralistic hippies in NorthWest America. I have four siblings (Rachel, John, Corban, and Nathan) and three pet dogs at home (Jake, Molly, and Zeus).

I came to faith in Christ when I was 9 in the summer of 2006 and have been a believer in the Way ever since. My parents strong belief in Christianity had a great impact on my path towards the Christian faith, but the decision was all my own. I accepted Christ unofficially walking home from my friend David’s house where we were watching Playboy DVD’s after school. I officially and publicly came to Christ at Calvary Chapel Oxnard’s Summer VBS a few weeks later when my VBS group leader explained the Gospel to me after I questioned him as to whether it was true or not.

I am and always have been an avid storyteller and an active listener to people’s stories. I was the kid growing up who would rather watch my brother John play video games with his friends, than actually play video games with them because I liked the plot of the campaigns. I started writing my first stories in either second grade or third grade and continue to write to this day. At home, I have stacks of half-written novels, short stories, and concepts either on flash-drives or busting out of years-old binders. Writing allows my soul to speak truthfully, in spite of my antisocial and introverted nature that is likely due to my high-spectrum autism disorder as diagnosed by Stanford University when I was just an infant.

This inner storyteller in me is also why I love cinema and going to the theater so much. When VHS and Blockbuster were still a thing, my siblings and I would watch our tiny VHS collection to death as we rewatched our movie collection to the point of memorization. This collection that we had as kids consisted of such movies as the original Star Wars trilogy (1977-1983), The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003), the Wallace & Gromit series (1990-1995), a pair of Jurassic Park movies (1993; 2001), a few Val Kilmer movies like The Ghost in the Darkness (1996), The Saint (1997), and The Prince of Egypt (1998), along with other films too numerous to mention.

When we got a little older, we boys got the privilege of watching my Dad’s infamous movie collection that holds over a dozen of the best films I’ve ever watched. Although, we would watch these movies with Dad after Mom went to bed when it was very late at night. This collection consisted of mostly war movies like Braveheart (1995), Gladiator (2000), Saving Private Ryan (1998), The Patriot (2000), and We Were Soldiers (2002). Yet, it also had other genre movies like A Beautiful Mind (2001), Bandits (2001), Equilibrium (2002), Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy (2002-2007), The Matrix (1999), The Passion of the Christ (2004), and the Phantom of the Opera (2004). It might just be a box of DVD’s, but it holds some of my favorite memories as my Dad showed us boys what men he wanted us to be through the medium of film.

Besides my love for storytelling, whatever the medium might be, I also compete in Strongman. It’s a type of weightlifting that emphasizes brute and practical strength to the extreme. I was introduced to the sport by my mentor Andrew Morrison and have loved it ever since I tried it out almost three years ago. I have competed three times and I am preparing for future competitions as of the publishing of this blog-post. Through my time training and learning of the sport, I’ve brushed shoulders with some of the world’s strongest men like Brian Shaw, Mike Burke, Robert Oberst, and Stan Caradine. My favorite Strongman lifts are Atlas Stones, Farmer Carries, and Log Press. Later down the line, I’ll be writing more on my athletic progress as well.

My theological stance is Molinist, while my preference on church function leans heavily towards Anabaptist, even in the face of growing up in the Calvary Chapel Movement. I much rather favor an elder-run church versus the CEO-style that Chuck Smith set up for that particular movement. As the old saying goes, “power corrupts” and in my eyes the more powerful one is, the potential to be corrupted is ever more present than for your everyday person. So the more accountability before God and men, the better. I currently attend two churches, Peace Mennonite Community Church and a new church plant in the Colorado area called Lifegate Denver. Although in the near future, I will only be attending Lifegate Denver as I become a youth group leader and serve to make people alive in Christ.

My favorite three apologists are Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, and John Lennox, along with some honorable mentions like Alvin Plantinga, Alister McGrath, C.S. Lewis, James White, Michael Brown, Norman Geisler, R. C. Sproul, and Voddie Baucham. My Dad taught me basic hermeneutics when I was very young and from there I began to develop my own systematic theology as I became a man, which is still at work as I mature in the faith. If I had an emphasis as a Christian apologist on a specific subject, then it would be majoring in church history and minoring in theology and exegesis/hermeneutics. With that said, I’d like to know more about every subject if I’m perfectly honest. I’m mostly self taught, but I have had mentors in my life that have guided my study and sharpened my worldview to be more coherent in all areas of my life. Not just knowing the talk, but actually living the walk.

I attended the Colorado Film School for a while and have an education in screenwriting and directing for the screen. Funny enough, I mostly just work as an editor for AvidMax and produce their creative content. I’m also currently researching for two books that I am in the process of writing. The first book is a fictional novel that focuses on miscarriage, stillborn, and suffering. The other book is like Mere Christianity for the modern world. The first book I’d like to finish within the next year (hopefully this December) and the second book later on after that. Since I finished school, expect to see me write more prolifically as the year goes on, but know that I could get pulled away because those two books are also things that I’m working on the side and will continue to be very time consuming projects.

I started this blog for a few reasons, but like I said earlier, it gives me the opportunity to speak freely on whatever is on my mind. Also, I’ve had people nudge me into doing some sort of writing on my views, so that also inspired me as well. This blog started in June of 2015 and will continue to go on unless of course I’m assassinated or something of that sort. I wrote down the idea for my first blog-post, 1 + 1 = 1: Entering Marriage in the Modern World, on the way back from my Uncle Todd’s wedding in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico a month earlier from when it was actually published. All in all, I’m Chris Cribari and this is just a frame of my life. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Dear Brachel

Photo Cred: Steve Martin.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (1).” Like all things that are of God, they begin with God and are for His pleasure. When He first caused the universe into existence, it began with a bang. I refer to this as the big beginning, but you may know it more commonly by “The Big Bang.” This ripple effect began with God and continues to go onward with God’s guidance. For the expansion of the universe is the echo of Creation. From here in the first few verses of the Bible, specifically the book of Genesis, we would assume that with starting on such a powerful note of God’s mighty majesty that we would continue to read of more magnificent cosmological descriptions of our universe. From the stars to the galaxies, but that is not what happens.

For unlike literary material inspired by men, this is not a story of spectacle. Rather it is a story of the spiritual interacting with the physical. In other words, a love story between the Creator and His Creation. From Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:25, the historical narrative of Genesis narrows down to what truly matters most: the relationship between Man and Maker.

This is signified in the model for marriage that we all are familiar with in Genesis 2:24. Creation started with a bang and ended with its centerpiece, that is, us humans living out the marriage model, which is our own most precious relationship that exists. As Ravi Zacharias proclaimed, there are three sanctities in life: worship, relationship, and stewardship. Marriage is the utmost relational sanctity amidst both the familial and non-familial relationships that we all partake in day in and day out.

Dear Bradford,

When we first met, I thought you were weird and Egyptian. After many years of being your friend, I still think you’re weird. Also, I now know you’re not Egyptian. From our Midnight summer camp experiences to our thrift store crawls after a bustling night of vending at Coors Field, you have never seized to be instantaneously fun when the time calls for it. With that said, the attribute that I will always associate with you is diligent perseverance when it’s time to go to work. The way you buckle in and finish everything you do in life with excellence is an admirable trait that the majority of men our age sadly are severely lacking, including me.

In remembrance of this admirable trait, I am reminded of Genesis 2:15. A verse I uphold with the greatest significance in the grand scope of Scripture as to what it means to not only be human, but more precisely how to be a man after God’s own heart. For God created Creation with the intent that we would take care of His Creation. If we know anything about our world and gardens in particular, it is that they require a good gardener to “cultivate it and keep it (2)” from becoming overgrown or branching away from the original design.

Every person that is of Christ has been given a garden from God to cultivate and keep together. Hence, our lives are our gardens. Even those who are not of Christ have been endowed with a garden to cultivate and maintain, but those gardens bear fruitless trees. We ought to trim, maintain, and eventually will present what we did with these God-given gardens to the Gardener that wept for His Creation in the Garden of Gethsemane (3) not to long ago before dying on a tree.

Bradford, you’re a married man now. All that is yours is now also Rachel’s for she has been grafted into your garden as the ultimate helper to aid in a joint-partnership of sorts to further the betterment of your ever growing garden. Like all aspects of life, with the addition of time comes the addition of responsibility for the time we have lived. Be responsible and respectful of God’s garden and watch the fruits of your labor flourish as the years go by, which may include a quiver of children one day in the future. Hopefully, if it is God’s will, that you and Rachel would be fruitful and multiply the family tree.

Walk humbly before the true, triune God like our good brother Enoch when he roamed this Earth. May this new change in the dynamics of your garden be one of challenge, yet of great gain. In all things, be the husband your wife needs, not the one she wants. Unless of course her wants align with her abiding in both Jesus and His Word abiding in her (4). Above all, “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good and abstain from every form of evil (5).”

Your brother in law and in the LORD,

Christopher D. Cribari

 

Dear Rachel,

Your day has finally arrived. The one that you have dreamed of and prayed for fervently has come in a dashingly quick fashion. Now your wedding is the past, but the present is at hand and now is the time to seize time by taking every opportunity to glorify God in all that you do, which now includes marriage.

To be frank, it was a bit shocking to come to the realization that my sister, the one that used to eat tubs of ice cream and cover herself in nothing but mud just to chase our brother John is now a married woman that exemplifies the qualities of a God-fearing woman. Those moments of our childhood are alas mere memories of a more innocent time in our lives growing up together.

Yet, here we are with you being the bride of a godly man that has grafted you into his garden and has asked for your helping hand in preserving what the LORD has provided for you to tend to during your Earth-bound days. Aforementioned earlier in my letter to Bradford, I mentioned the fact that our lives that we live are gardens of sorts that must be taken care of before our days end here. Although marriage is very much a new dynamic to your life, it is a new fundamental tree that must be cared for on a daily basis from this day forth in your joint-garden with our brother in the LORD, Bradford.

From our long nights talking about the greater good found in God to the the obscure photo shoots we would have every so often, the attribute of yours that sticks out the most to me is how eager you’re to help others, even me. How when we were younger and my autism was much more prevalent in those days, you helped me figure out the world as a little boy that was not quite like the other kids. It was your kindness and ability to aid others and I that has to be your most celebratory attribute.

Just as Eve was made of Adam, so too you were raised in the household of men with our mother being the single, shining light of what it meant to be a woman in the modern world. So when Bradford came onto the scene to sweep you off of your feet, it fit perfectly with the groove of our family’s rhythm. With Bradford’s diligent perseverance and your elegant grace in helping others, the two of you fit excellently together as Bradford needs a woman like you and you need a man like him.

Be there for him when he fails and when he does, let him. After the dust settles, help him as only a true woman can and innately must for they were created for this very purpose (6). Take our father and mother’s greatest attributes, Dad’s gratitude and Mom’s grace, with you into your covenant with your knight in shinning armor. Never forget the lessons of our youth and remain in the pursuit of truth, hand-in-hand with the man leading the way to the final destination in the next life.

Our mother, Samantha, has spent over half her life with our father, Mark. Through the trials and tribulations, she stayed with him to celebrate when triumph dawned brightly on the two of them. May you achieve such a monumental goal one day of continual commitment. Now that you’re all grown up at the beautiful age of 21, here is to the first 21 years of marriage with Bradford. May each passing day with its inevitable challenges bring forth comfort as you rest in the fact that you never have to face these challenges alone. Oh, and happily ever after. Always and forever.

Your brother in blood and the blood of Christ,

Christopher D. Cribari

 

With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

_________________________________________________________________

  1. Genesis 1:1 (NASB)
  2. Genesis 2:15 (NASB)
  3. Matthew 26:36 (NASB)
  4. John 15:7 (NASB)
  5. 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 (NASB)
  6. Genesis 2:18 (NASB)

 

Blog Update: Fall 2016

Hey everyone, just wanted to update you on the state of my blog and what to look forward in the near future. Although I was supposed to release a blog-post I have almost done in September, I have been too busy at work and school to find time to research and write. So that next post will have to wait a bit longer until things die down and I have some more free time. I am in the process of writing two different blog posts and have more on the way that I intend to write to you shortly. Here is a quick bullet-point list of the next 5 blog posts that are coming soon to you in the upcoming months.

 

  • Discipled and How to Stay That Way: a quick look at what discipleship means after your mentor is done training you and the process there after.
  • Why Do People Die and Why Do We Care?: a quick, two-page response to one of my personal inquires that I’ve wrestled with in my personal life.
  • Mentors That Made Me A Man: An ongoing blog-post series that will focus on various mentors of mine, the lessons they taught me, and how they made the man I am today.
  • Why I Am Pro-Life: A blog-post that defends my belief in pro-life versus pro-choice that is based entirely on biological investigation and other scientific knowledge presently available.
  • Isolated Together: a reflection on how technology has changed humanity from being separated to now being overly connected through the advancements made in the last few decades.

Well, there you have it! The next 5 things I will be posting about in the near future (hopefully starting in October) that you get to look forward too for the time being. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

The Fruits of Forgiveness

It has been a year since my older brother John and I have forgiven each other the wrongs done to one another in the past. Within the past year, a lot of spiritual growth has happened in our lives as we have moved forward beyond that day of restoration and healing. In the span of a year, the harvest that we tended to for a mere 365 days has flourished with an abundance of spiritual fruit as opportunity after opportunity has arisen since we sowed that seed of reconciliation back in November of 2014.

Both of us have changed dramatically for the better as men of valor and virtue doing what we love. Doing what we dreamed of doing back when we were kids. For instance, the joy I find in storytelling and John’s knack for all things sports related has led us to pursue those passions for nearly a decade bringing us to a point when those childish fantasies are now vivid realities. Funny how some things never change. And who knows because maybe one day each of us will get to marry that special someone and have our own families in the near future. It’s strange to think back on what we wanted then and understand what we have now.

How if our younger versions of ourselves could see who we are today as grown men, I think they would be quite satisfied with the result. Like when I younger, I would wear my blue blanket as a cape and fight waves of imaginative evil forces attempting to crush the King’s castle with the aid of my younger brothers. Fast forward to now where I am in film school actually making those fantasies a reality through the art of visual storytelling. When John was younger, he too would play hours of street ball after school with the kids in our neighborhood, getting smothered in dirt from the pavement to now being the football star he aspired to be in his youth. Life truly is a constant reflection of the past and a redirection into the future.

It’s also interesting to note that now that we hit the reset button on our relationship as brothers and since the past is just the past, how we are really just starting from scratch. We kind of realized that because there was such division between us for so long, that now we don’t really know what the other is interested in or really anything about each other. It’s a bit odd and exciting to embark forward not knowing who we are exactly as we continue through as fellow friends. It’s pretty cool to rediscover who we are after years of friction and division that we built between each other.

Every time we talk we learn something new about each other. It’s strange because I would of figured as his closest brother age-wise, that I would be his closest brother relation-wise. I realize now after a year of sowing and reconstruction, how little I know about him and how little he knows about me. Yet it’s fun because we get to grow together in the next phase of our life, which is extremely exhilarating to enter: adulthood. To think we can now at this point in our lives get married, have kids, buy a home, start a family, and so on. It’s absolutely incredible!

Another aspect that has changed in our relational dynamic as siblings is the mutual respect for each other as men. It’s odd. For example, we both know that if we ever did physically fight now we would jack each other up. Although, I think he would win hands down. Plus, he’s athletic and I like Star Wars, so not much of a debate there. Then there is the way we treat each other as grown men, which I’m still getting used too and I bet he is too. How we don’t settle for the childish disputes that used to divide us, but engage in mature conversations on things that matter like God, manhood, healthy living, and so on. We have gone from constructing things with LEGOS to crushing iron.

Also, I find it interesting on God’s part how He has weaved our lives closely together,whether in times of division or in times of unification. Like how John plays in football games and I vend at football games. Or how we ask each other for nutrition and training advice, but have completely different philosophies when it comes to weightlifting in general. He lifts weights and eats right to improve his athleticism in football, in order to perform better during his football season. While I’ll eat half a dozen donuts before a workout and then proceed to lift Strongman implements like a log press or a farmer’s carry because being stupid strong is awesome.

Anyways, this dynamic of ours reminds me of Proverbs 27:17 (NASB) which says “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Because what happens in the process of sharpening iron with iron? Sparks fly. I believe this analogy perfectly describes our dynamite relationship as brotherly buds because whenever we interact sparks are flying like the clashing of swords. Yes, we clash a lot because we are polar opposites in a lot of ways, yet that’s the very reason we usually come to each other for help.

In short, this year has been quite blessed in the respect that a lot of growth has happened in all aspects of my life. Having Thanksgiving so close right now, it’s nice see to these changes for which I’m very thankful for and reflect on how John has been instrumental in my life. He is a good brother and friend. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. Disclaimer

 

Bitterness and How It Broke Me

Updated: 9/12/2017

I hate John Cribari. Well, I used too. Let me explain in detail what I mean by that statement. You see for the longest time I had a bitter hatred towards my older brother, John Cribari, and it nearly decimated me. But before I explain my personal story of bitterness, let me take you back to the beginning of this whole story.

My brother John and I at one point in our lives were like two peas in a pod who did everything together. We were the best of friends and loved playing with each other in our youth as boys usually play. Some days it would be a race in our grandparents backyard to see who was the fastest and other times we would play pretend at the apartments we lived in at Thousand Oaks, CA imagining that we were protecting Helm’s Deep from thousands of Uruk-Kai. He was usually Boromir or Aragorn, while I was usually Faramir or Gimli fighting off swarms of foes left and right.

The neighbors were never really fans of our imaginative adventures, so we would sometimes include them in the action and just pretend they too were Uruk-hai. That didn’t end too well most of the time, but then again how do you stomp the minds of children whose whole childhood was woven by the influences of mighty men of fiction and history? Men like Maximus Decimus Meridius, William Wallace, Joshua of the Bible, David’s Mighty Men, and so many more that inspired my brother and I to be men of valor who stood for something. Men that stood for the oppressed and fought against the oppressors of this world that meant nothing but harm to others. This is the way that our parents raised us during our childhood and into adulthood.

Yet, at a very early age our times in boyhood were not so squeaky clean like I wished they could have been. At the ages of 7 and 8, sometime in May of 2005, our old friend David from Thousand Oaks introduced us to pornography among other things that would forever leave a mark on us. For about a year, summer to summer, we would watch pornography at his house for hours and then return home all while under our parents noses. We quickly realized two things at the end of that year: we were not being the men of valor our parents raised us to be and that we needed to stop.

So at the end of the summer of 2006, we made an oath to each other and to God that we would stop swearing, watching pornography, and all the other junk that we did behind our parents backs. The way we sealed this oath was ironically by cursing as much as possible and as loud as possible for 60 seconds. No seriously. That’s how we sealed our oath with the one true God about changing our old ways by getting it all out of our system. So we thought at the time was the most logical decision. We were 8 and 9 at this time with our birthdays shortly coming up in June.

Shortly after our birthdays, I got saved at Calvary Chapel Oxnard’s VBS at the end of June in 2006 and to be honest I do not know when my brother got saved in his life, so you’ll have to ask him yourself if you ever have the pleasure of meeting him someday. But I can say that our lives did change from that point onward. We would study the Bible every night before bed for hours as we read of our favorite heroes like David, Gideon, and other Biblical men who were men of valor. It was in this great season of our lives that we went through 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, and 1 & 2 Chronicles during a time of getting right with God. These studies were usually led by John who has always been the extrovert and initiator among the two of us when it comes down to it.

It was not until we moved to Colorado in July of 2007 that things began to change for the worse between us and inside of ourselves as we were entering middle school. We began to go back to our old ways even after having sworn to God to never return to those truly foolish ways. For me, it was during the second half of 5th grade that I slipped back into pornography and it was not until the second half of 8th grade that I truly stopped that godless habit. While this happened to me, John was badly influenced by the world in middle school and he even told my Dad not to let me go to public middle school due to how bad it was for him there. To put it bluntly, he got hurt and permanently marked by the world. For our family, it was really hard to watch him enter this prodigal son type of season where he dabbled in both the things of God and the things of the world.

Now as we both were slipping down the slope of sin during this time, everyone thought it was just John who was struggling with the influences of the world, but I too was struggling as well. The thing is that people only thought John was prodigal because they saw with their physical eyes, but if one were to look with spiritual eyes at this time, then they would have seen that we were both being prodigal sons. We were both sinning heavily, yet only one of us had outward symptoms that others could physically see. As my parents were scrambling to fix their eldest child, they never truly realized that they had another prodigal son: me.

So over that period of time I grew very bitter towards everyone, especially my brother John. I grew bitter towards my parents because they were trying to help John, but didn’t bat an eye to help me from my perspective. Being diagnosed with Autism at 1½ , asking for help from others has always been extremely hard. I have always felt like the “special needs” child who never could keep up with others my age and that I was always dependent on others for help. 

The way I countered this emotionally painful aspect of my life was to never seek the help of others by being a “lone-wolf” of sorts because I thought that people were unreliable and were holding me back from being like all the other kids. So I taught myself a lot of things like how to ride a bike in 6th grade and how to write legibly. This is something that I still struggle with as a grown man who is still not like everyone else. I grew bitter towards others because it seemed like they had it all together which just reminded me that I didn’t have everything together.

While my bitterness grew for those people in my life, it never truly reached the amount of filthy bitterness I had towards John. I blamed him for leading me astray and alienating me from the world by being home schooled for all of middle school. I blamed him for breaking his oath to God, for hurting our family with his actions of outward rebellion, and in a sense for leaving me behind as I once followed his example when we were right with God.

I felt so isolated during those long 3 years and wanted to get back at him for all he did to me. So I ignored his existence, I brought up strife in our family in order to isolate him like I was isolated, and in a way made him the black sheep of our family. Sadly as I reflect on this period of time, it worked and he became the black sheep that our family was ashamed to be affiliated with for a long time.

It was not really until the summer after 8th grade that I rededicated my life to God and my sinful habits became past habits, but the one thing I did not let go of was the bitterness towards John. During the summer, I grew a lot as a Christian in my faith and went all in as far as learning the truth went, but the bitterness stunted my growth like an anchor to a sinking ship. I could have been so much stronger in my faith as I was entering public high school, yet like Jacob when he wrestled with God (1), I would not let go of this bitterness and instead clung to it even more than before. 

As I attended Eaglecrest High School for 2 years, John was already going there and was very well known there. Every teacher I had would ask “Are you John’s brother?” or mistake me for John all the time because of our facial similarities. I wanted to deny it a lot of the time, but I always accepted my family relations with him. It was humiliating because I didn’t want anything to do with him during this season.

I find it ironic that as all of this was going on, I as a freshman in high school was anointed by God to lead the Christian club at our school called “First Priority” for those 2 years. Funny how God can use someone as flawed as me to reach people flawed like me. And use me He did as I became known as “Bible-Man” by my peers at school, relentlessly defending the faith and even had several debates at school in the courtyard. A courtyard  I would later nickname “The King’s Court” because the Holy Spirit would do some crazy stuff through me during those debates. 

Anyways, as freshman year was ending my bitterness was at its peaking point. Myself being clouded with my false assumptions, hatred, bitterness, and all out rage towards John led me to the decision that I had to stop him from hurting our family anymore. So I plotted to kill him and and had every intention to do so. That intention and desire grew and grew as the summer of 2013 came by when my bitterness had hit its absolute peak.

But God had other plans and on July 10th, 2013 God did something I never saw coming: He protected John from me and the intentions of my selfish heart. Similar to how God did the same for Israel (2) when He stood against the Egyptian armies as they hunted Israel down. 

Before that day though, God had given me a series of 4 dreams that were exactly the same each time in May, June, and July of 2013. In the dream, I heard a voice say something of a warning and that I shouldn’t do something. It’s hard to remember the exact wording, but the message was quite clear: don’t hurt John. 

Next in the dream, I was looking from a first person perspective and saw that I was lying in a hospital bed. Then I looked around and my entire family was in the room surrounding the bed I was laying on. After that I would wake up, but the message was clear and despite it I clearly disobeyed God because my heart still had the intention to kill John.

It was a late Wednesday night and the family was coming home from church, except John and my younger brother Nathan were home that night and didn’t go to church. As my family was pulling onto our street, we abruptly stopped because there was a large tree branch across the road in front of our house and our neighbors house. So we all jumped out of our truck to pitch in and move the branch from the road onto the sidewalk with our neighbors helping too. 

After moving that branch, we helped move other branches that were scattered across the road because there was a windy storm that was brewing during church and was ending by the time we came to help that had nearly destroyed the cotton-wood tree right across the street from our house. Once the debris had been removed from the road there was one problem: there was a large, loose branch hanging in the cotton-wood and hovering over our neighbor’s car.

So our neighbor moved their car and my Dad pulled out his ladder to shake the branch down while everyone was clearing the area. It was at this moment that everything became complete chaos as the small branch was being shaken down by my Dad. The entire tree shook, the wind came back which caused it to shake more than before, and then one of the main branches, reportedly 20 to 25 feet in length, fell. 

As the largest branch began to crack in the darkness of the night, everyone scrambled left and right. The scariest part was that no one could see it, so we all just fled in every direction from the tree hoping it would not hit us. As I looked up, I barely saw the top of the tree, so I sprinted from where I was standing in the street going full speed. Little did I know that the branch was falling directly my way. 

Then everything went black, but I was fully conscious. It was just pure darkness for about a minute, yet it felt like forever. For a second, I thought to myself “Crap, the atheists were right. I’m dead and there’s nothing.” Soon my state of nothingness ended and I was awoken by the excruciating pain of the neighbors moving my broken body from the street and onto my driveway, but they soon just put me back onto the ground because there was not much they could do.

The emergency responders soon came and took me to the hospital where I stayed for several days. The morning after the accident I woke up and it played out just like the 4 dreams I had beforehand. I woke up in a hospital bed with my family surrounding me wanting to see how I was doing. It was absolutely mind-bending to know the dream and have it unfold before my very eyes because of the evil intentions of my heart. It was after this humiliating moment in time where my bitterness began to fade as I was deeply humbled by God. For about a month, I wore a neck brace and even for the first two days of school as a Sophomore in high school which only added to the embarrassment of it all. God had broken me along with my bitterness.

It took a long time for my bitterness to go away completely though and it would take almost 1½ years before my bitterness finally left completely. Although it was in that time that my bitterness for John was slowly, but surely being replaced with love for John. It was not until November 15th, 2014 after John and I got into an argument that I broke down. I couldn’t handle hating him anymore. 

My only option was to love him at this point in my life because I was so hurt by my own bitterness that I grew weary after having had it for so long. It was this night where I told him everything and asked him for forgiveness for all that I had done. He did the same for his own mistakes and we after years of conflict were finally reconciled as brothers no longer at odds with one another. It truly was one of the greatest days of my life because the burden of bitterness that had been upon my shoulders was replaced by the security of forgiveness.

For the past 10 months our lives have both been on a resurgence since there is nothing holding us back now. John is currently in California playing college football at Moorpark college, pursuing a degree in Kinesiology, and working on receiving a certificate for Personal Training. I am currently pursuing my AAS in Directing/Writing at the Colorado Film School, preparing for my next Strongman competition, and hoping to become the Lecrae of Hollywood so to speak by making quality films that reflect the Creator. We even have a friendly competition between us to see who is the strongest whenever we workout. Now that it is love that binds us and not bitterness, we have the God-given opportunity to seek our passions as men of God, men of valor.

You see bitterness is a lot like raising your fist up in the air at someone you hate and then repeatedly punching yourself in the face. For one it looks really stupid and it accomplishes absolutely nothing. James, the brother of Jesus, once spoke about bitterness in his letter to Christians dispersed throughout the known world and said the following about the matter:

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (NASB James 3:13-18).

If there is bitterness in your heart then hear from me and let go of your bitterness. Don’t do what I did and try to solve problems in the feebleness of your mind. God is love and therefore I now strive to reflect that love as a “Little-Christ” in every relationship because it is God who abides in me. Molding me into the man of valor I have always desired to be in my life as I grow older and older.

To John I say this: thank you and I love you more than ever before as my big brother always watching out for me. You were never close to the perfect example, but neither was I or ever have been for that matter. But it is the very fact that you tried to be a man of valor like the ones we read of and pretended to be that matters. 

Your boldness has helped me breakthrough my own shyness and introverted habits as I have grown older. You taught me many things in my life that I am truly grateful for like that one time we stood in a parking lot all day as you showed me how to catch a football. Always caring for others and not afraid to give it your all in whatever you do. Thank you for the wrestling smack downs, the brotherly pep talks, and especially for the consistency in your life as you strive to be as real as possible in every aspect of your life. I love John Cribari. Well, now I do. Until next time, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. Genesis 32:24-32
  2. Exodus 14:19
  3. Disclaimer

Waiting

Updated: 8/28/2017 | Photo Cred: http://www.pexels.com

This season of my life has been an interesting one. It has not been like previous seasons such as the time of intense spiritual warfare that lasted the duration of my first two years of high school. That was when I led a Christian club called “First Priority” at Eaglecrest High School.

On the other hand, it is also different than the season filled with teaching opportunities where God gave me the ability to lecture on why the Bible can be trusted, as well as teach in my church’s high school youth group on Titus 2:11-15. There was also the occasional spiritual small talk at work or school last year which was amazing to take part in with those who wrestled with certain concepts. Things like the Ontological Argument, “Is Catholicism Christian and can Christians be Catholic?”, and the small discussions concerning the existence of God.

But this season is different. It is different because in my life there is usually something huge I have to overcome and can only do so with the help of God. But this season does not have a mountain to conquer. It has no valley to explore or dark cavern of tribulation to go through, but is simply a time of waiting.

This season is significant because I have not had this much time to breath and look back at what I have gone through in my life. I do not like it that much either because I love to do things and accomplish great things that have purpose, but instead I am sitting on the sidelines as everyone else gets a turn at bat. I have friends who are getting married, having children, moving out, traveling the world, going on missions trips, and so much more. Then here I am just waiting for the next unexpected journey that God has for me.

Probably the funniest part of this season is that I do not know what I am waiting for or what lies ahead in my life! Is it marriage? No, God has told me to wait. Is it a missions trip? No, God has told me that that is neither my calling nor my purpose in life for now. Is it a career? No, God has told me that I am not ready and must first go to college to receive my education.

So what is it that I am so desperate to start? I have no idea. All I can do for now is wait. As I wait on the LORD, this passage comes to mind as I wait for my turn to hit a home run for the LORD:

Luke 16:10 (NKJV)

“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is also unjust in much.”

Some other passages of scripture that come to mind are Acts 2:42 (NKJV), 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NASB), and Isaiah 40:29-31 (NKJV) during this season of preparing for my next adventure with the LORD my God. In the meantime, I have been keeping my mind, body, and most importantly, my spiritual state active. I have been studying and reading about the history of Christianity, working out to maintain my body which God has given me, and staying up to date on current events as the world gets closer to its dying day.

I have also spent a lot more time focused on the five basics of Christian living: reading the Bible, studying the Bible, memorizing portions of the Bible, praying, and sharing the gospel. So as I wait on the LORD during this time in my life, maybe this little blog-post can encourage you to stand strong and press on in your faith as maybe some of you wait on the LORD as well. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. Disclaimer