Don’t Find The One, Be The One

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 5/4/2022

I’ve never really had anything to add to the purity culture conversation until now. For the uninitiated, this was a Christian subculture movement in the late 1990s, which influenced how parents raised their kids in the 2000s to roughly the early 2010s. This was in response to a lot of cultural artifacts of that time: celebrity sex tapes, normalization of hook-up culture, online pornography, the AIDS epidemic, and even the internet boom of the 1990s.

Purity Culture Defined

Now were there other factors during this period of time? Of course, but this helps set the stage for why the purity culture movement began and what was the root of parents’ fears. The introduction of the new always brings the reversion back to the old for some. This happens with everything.

In this case, it was the reversion back to old ideas about dating. Like arranged marriages by a church congregation or even the Christian concept of courtship. This time, it just had a new spin. That spin is what spun an entire generation into sexual shame.

Under immense pressure to balance the natural inclinations of adolescence with the fear-mongering led by thought leaders at the time, people were stuck in a state of never knowing if they handled their dating life right. Doubts on if they were even good enough to be with someone because they weren’t virgins or “pure” enough. It was a movement that had good intentions at first, but with awful execution ended in disastrous results.

When a movement is rooted in fear and not grace, it always ends poorly. The purity culture movement was rooted in the fears of its time, not in the grace of God. Given it was grounded in the former and not the latter, Christians recoiled from what they thought was God’s hate. Instead of emulating God’s love in their relationships and enjoying the grace that’s supposed to be found within them.

From side hugs and purity rings to parents having to meet each other to decide if this was a “good” relationship, it was the norm for a lot of kids at this time. Even the perversion of modesty to the point of being a tool to elicit the young to be ashamed of their own bodily desires was standard malpractice. Then again, these repulsive symptoms were more of a theological problem than anything. At least, that’s where I think it starts.

The Modern Myth Of The One

What bothered me the most about this whole thing was the prevalent concept of the one and how that framework warped everything going into this movement. Which then bled into our current relationship climate of the #MeToo era. How all modern dating is based on the lie of the one. A theological misconception that has ties to determinism, God’s sovereignty, and a blatant misunderstanding of what it means to become one in marriage.

How is this the root? Well, it starts with some believing that everything is determined by God. A sort of manifest destiny, but instead of land promised by God it’s people in this case. Those people are the one.

The person you were destined to marry no matter what. It’s this idea I believe laid dormant in the subconscious of Christians until the purity culture movement awakened this aged-out concept. A framework that gave rise to a lot of these conventions we mock now.

Then again, what does the Bible actually say about this? What is God’s design for relationships really? Put simply, the Bible doesn’t promote the one. Rather it does promote becoming the one for someone else. Let me explain.

Becoming The One vs. Finding The One

We could go in a lot of different directions, but for now I just want to zero in on the book of Ruth. Why? Well, it dispels this lie of the one quickly with a simple question. Who was the one for Ruth? Was it Mahlon or Boaz?

Her first husband Mahlon was married to her for 10 years, provided in the famine-infested land of Moab, and married Ruth when she was fairly young. Her second husband was Boaz, grafted her into the family of Jesus, and married Ruth when she was middle aged. The first husband gave away his health to provide, while the second gave away his wealth to provide.

The former was equivalent to a blue-collar worker if he worked in our time. The latter was a man of valor whose military service allowed him to benefit from the spoils of war. When you think about it, neither of them were the one but rather became the one she needed.

Mahlon became the one in that he sacrificed everything to care for Ruth. Boaz then became the one in that he shared everything to care for Ruth. Both men became the one over time.

A good, godly relationship isn’t about finding the one. It’s about becoming the one for the sake of someone else. That you love someone so much you change to become better for them and to them. Not to say you shouldn’t choose wisely who you end up with, but you’re not agreeing to a completed person. You’re agreeing to being there as they are made complete in Christ.

Like God commands, they fully committed themselves to Ruth. Loving sacrificially and being there. At the time, Mahlon was the best possible choice for Ruth and later on Boaz was the same. Of course it’s conjecture since we only know snippets of their life, but their character bleeds through the page. Where we progress, God perfects. Marriages thrive when God guides them. Grace is our guide, not fear. Becoming the one is a grace-guided process.

Although, this could be distorted into a work-mentality where you have to do all of these self-help hacks to appear to be better. That’s not what becoming the one means. Becoming the one isn’t about performance, but patience and persistence.

The humble heart in asking God to better you so that you can be the best possible spouse in your marriage. An acknowledgement that your starting point is bad and only God can restore your soul to its best. The idea of the one is an attractive cultural myth, while becoming the one is simply self-actualizing into who God designed us to be in him. One is chasing after the winds of the world, yet the other is weathering the storms of a holy covenant and promise.

Final Thoughts

Having been in the most serious relationship of my life currently that’s heading towards marriage now, I just see this flaw so much more clearly. Our culture taught our brains to go after plastic-bound porn stars and the powerful with influence, instead of ordinary people that look and act just like us.

What makes the person you end up with special isn’t status or a lack of stretch marks, but the extraordinary fact that God made them and you get to be with them. Modernity has killed the mundane. Public image defines us more so than being imagers of God. We need to change that toxic perspective that has hurt a lot of people.

Don’t look for the perfect person because you’ll never find anyone close to that sinful standard. Rather, become someone who is by God’s sanctification transforming you into the one for someone in your life. Don’t find the one, be the one. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.pexels.com/

How To Sabbath | 1-2-2022

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 3/22/2022

It’s peculiar how when I’m supposed to teach on a certain topic, the topic is more relevant for me than for anyone else. Like I need to teach this, so that I learn it even more. God tends to do that a lot.

Sermon Prep

Learn sabbath on my own? Maybe. Teach sabbath to someone else? Now I’m listening. That’s how this one went. Learning to sabbath as I was preparing and then taught this message.

But things were different this time. It had been almost 2 months since my last message, which bombed and I went with an older technique I learned way back in the day mixed with some of the new.

The style here was largely inspired by one of my mentors, Shannon Popp, who showed the power of listening. How what you say doesn’t nearly matter as much as what is said by others in a small group setting. I did that along with some other small group skills that I picked up on when I was running my high school’s First Priority essentially on my own.

Regardless, the format here is largely bordered by quotes from Scripture and less so by concepts found in Scripture. By singling in on a single idea for the night, the conversation we had discovered the truth mutually. Then again, I didn’t actually teach a “sermon” per se on this night.

Only a handful of regulars showed up and it wasn’t enough to justify the typical format of sermon, then small groups. We just jumped into an elongated time of small groups, which led to very thoughtful dialogue on the idea of sabbath.

This happened because nobody wants to go to church the weekend of New Year’s, so I planned accordingly. I figured it was a small crowd and appreciated the change in pace from the rush of the holidays. It was the sermon we needed for the season we found ourselves in together. With that in mind, here were my brief notes from that lowkey night:

Sermon Notes

Intro

  • Recap 2021
  • Pitch “Values” Series
  • Tonight, will be a one-off, topical discussion on sabbath.

Define Sabbath

  • In Hebrew, the word sabbath means to cease or to rest.
  • Originally, sabbath started when God finished creation and marveled at his handiwork.
  • Then, sabbath became a strictly enforced holiday that was observed from Friday evening to Saturday evening.
  • Nowadays, sabbath differs drastically depending on which Christians celebrate it. Here’s some Scriptures on why that is the case:

“Jesus said to them “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord, even of the Sabbath.””

Mark 2:27-28

“One person values one day over another, another values every day the same. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and the one who eats, does so with regard to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and the one who does not eat, it is for the Lord that he does not eat, and he gives thanks to God.”

Romans 14:5-6

“Therefore, no one is to act as your judge in regard to food and drink, or in respect to a festival or a new moon, or a sabbath day-things which are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”

Colossians 2:16-17
  • Read Hebrews 4:1-11 as a group.

Sabbath Takeaways

  • To sabbath means to remember collectively and to reflect individually on the power of God.
  • Our rest is rooted in the reality of God’s grace and the work that he has done.

Final Thoughts

This was a nice message and a good one in my mind. Had time to breathe and really sink our teeth into the meat of sabbath. I enjoyed it.

It’s funny. After I had already taught this message, I found my favorite longform explanation of sabbath in a book I was also reading at the time. My therapist recommended it and in there the author describes sabbath in such an excellent way. For instance, I loved this quote:

“The Sabbath was a solemn recognition that God had sovereign rights, a public act of appropriation wherein the believing community acknowledged that they owed their life and being to Another. As the memorial day of creation, the Sabbath meant a worship of adoration and thanksgiving for all God’s goodness, for all the Jews were and had. The rest from work was secondary.”

Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child (P. 60)

Like a lot of things, our greatest days are marked by a genuine gratitude for God’s goodness. As the days go on, so too do the platitudes of gratitude for our great God. With that Godspeed and Jesus bless.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.pexels.com/

Grace Talk: Grace In Relationships | 11-14-2021

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 3/20/2022

Going from a heavily knowledge based message on the Holy Spirit to then go on to teach a heavily heart based message on relationships was quite the jump in sermon prep approaches. In week 8 of the Grace Talk series from Reunion Church, this message was aimed at explaining how God’s grace impacts relationships. In retrospect, I didn’t jump far enough and through insecurity made a sermon from the wrong angle.

Sermon Prep

It was the right time to share this message, but not the right way. I took a head-knowledge approach to something that should’ve come from the heart. But at this time, I didn’t have it in me to do that so this was the ultimate result.

Whereas in the previous message in week 5 of Grace Talk, I spent a lot of time really trying to figure things out. This time, I waited until Saturday night to start preparing this one. Was it pride that I could just wing it? Was it compensating for the fact that I just started therapy and was resisting the topic of emotional intimacy? Laziness as I made other things keep me busy? I think it was all of those and more.

The bottom line: I just didn’t want to talk about this topic. I was avoiding it like Jonah avoiding God. But when duty calls, you can’t just not prepare a sermon you’re teaching the next day. So I did some research and found some semi-interesting ideas from a collection of articles and smashed them together like a Frankenstein mishmash of uncooked concepts.

If you couldn’t tell by now, I’m not a fan of how this turned out. Some good stuff here and there, but not my best and that bothers me today. When I’m not obedient to God in sharing his message, the people of God suffer because of it. That’s on me. This wasn’t a good sermon, yet there’s something to be learned from every message. Either way, here’s what I had in my sermon journal the night of the message:

Sermon Notes

Intro

  • 3 married pastors joke
  • Most of us navigate the faith-space a lot like romantic relationships.

Relationship Research

  • If you Google relationship studies, there’s tons about people having difficulty with commitment.
  • For instance, one study showed

“that cellphone snooping partially mediates the significant relationship between emotional instability, intention to break up, and conflicts.”

Influence of Lack of Trust on Romantic Relationship Problems by Abdulgaffar O. Arikewuyo, Kayode K. Eluwole; Bahire Özad
  • They also concluded that “lack of trust is a significant predictor of romantic relationship problems.”
  • Then again, other studies may have a solution for us.
  • In the study called “Who are “We?”,” they introduced a construct named couple identity clarity.
  • Basically, “an individual… believes that the two of them know who they are as a couple.”
  • The study concluded that this construct is directly associated with:
    • higher commitment above and beyond agreement
    • reduced likelihood of relationship dissolution
    • successful conflict resolution
  • Bottom-line: when people trust they know where things are at and that leads to relationships persisting.

Relating To God

  • Do we have couple identity clarity in our relationship with God?
  • Let’s see what Scripture says.

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself to me.”

Galatians 2:20 (NLT)
  • Paul shows how relating to God is like a romantic relationship in that there is this desire to give as a sign of love.
  • Again, in reference to Adam and Eve (i.e. marriage), Paul writes

“man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way of Christ and the church are one.”

Ephesians 5:31-32 (NLT)
  • For us as believers, this couple identity clarity construct can help us in our own relationships with God.
  • A few takeaways: be one, be open, and be optimistic.

Outro

  • To be one is to remain with God.
  • To be open is to communicate with God.
  • To be optimistic is to have joy with God.
  • The grace process all boils down to trust.
    • How do we trust God?
  • In faith and humility, we can trust God in the grace process.

Final Thoughts

This wasn’t even close to my best messages. It’s odd how I see my own arrogance now that I’m dating someone (who’s amazing) and how even just a matter of months ago I wrestled with relational intimacy, which slanted my view of relationships. How bent my perspective was and off I was sharing this message.

There’s nuggets of good here, but this was a great example of what not to do. For my next sermon, I took a more subdued approach and that eventually led to me adopting the standard Reunion Church method of preaching. Here I learned 2 main things: I needed a heart check and my sermon structure sucked.

In the coming months, I have worked on those things with what I think has been very successful. I mean, I’ve got a girlfriend now and my sermons don’t suck. What more could an up and coming pastor want? With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.pexels.com/

Old Age

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 2/17/2022

Here is a poem that I wrote on February 15th, 2022. It was inspired by my fear of growing old.

All the world’s a stage.

Old age is its own birdcage.

Actors ready for their part to play.

Speaking lines, but nothing to say.

The show starts with the casting call.

Not you sir, but someone big and tall.

Not you mam, but someone we can catcall.

They’re staged like pretty dolls in a dance hall.

From here the rehearsals begin for this cast.

Practicing until emotion is first and thought is last.

Knowing only caricatures of humans long since past.

Continuing practice for their unending live broadcast.

In the hustle for youth we neglect the long trek to truth.

We’re perverted like the family in that one film Dogtooth.

Our chase for dried-out fountains of youth causes God’s ruth.

Caving to pressure like Lincoln’s skull meeting John Wilkes Booth.

But isn’t pretending not to age avoiding ultimate assuage?

That this farce of unblemished deity deprives souls of sage?

For so long I thought becoming old was itself sin’s final rage.

Now I see that it’s a return to form before we turn the last page.

With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless.

Footnotes

  1. Free stock photos · Pexels

Grace Talk: Who is the Holy Spirit? | 10-17-2021

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 12/23/2021

For a guy like me who is wired to love those heady knowledge-based sermons, this was a tough one to crack and figure out. As a part of the Grace Talk series from Reunion Church, this message was geared towards the role of the Holy Spirit in the grace process itself. How is the Holy Spirit himself involved in how we access grace? What does that relationship look like? This sermon was meant to answer those sorts of questions before we went into our hour of small groups.

Although from that premise, it should’ve been straight forward and yet when it comes to the topic of the Holy Spirit it’s never straight forward. In hindsight, it was good that I taught this one because I’ve done a lot of digging into this subject several times on this blog. Like one of my more popular posts on the Christian Essentials from a while back. Either way, over the years I’ve chipped away at the mystery that is God and all encompasses that reality.

Sermon Prep

For this sermon and for the sake of my audience, I had to take the most complicated idea in Christian thought which is the nature of God and break it down into a 15min message. Ha, no pressure. It’s not like making a mistake mid-message could lead the congregation to believing in blasphemy or heresy if I messed up. No big deal, right?

So how did I pull this off? Well, I flipped and paged through several super useful resources. A few of those being multiple key books:

  1. Forgotten God by Francis Chan
  2. Systematic Theology 2nd Edition by Wayne Grudem
  3. Know What You Believe by Paul E. Little
  4. Biblical Doctrine by John MacArthur & Richard Mayhue
  5. Christian Theology 6th Edition by Alistair McGrath
  6. The Mystery of the Trinity by Vern S. Poythress
  7. Essential Truths of the Christian Faith by R. C. Sproul
  8. The Forgotten Trinity by James White

Now that’s not even mentioning my online research either, but we don’t have time to discuss every footnote in my sermon. The point is I binged on understanding the Holy Spirit, so that my audience could get some key soundbites about him for the Sunday night discussion. My aim was to condense hours of prayer and study into key truths that could be shared in seconds.

I think I did fairly well, but the outcome is always up to God and his audience. I’m just the temporary bridge between both when I’m up there. Regardless of all of that background, here’s what I eventually came up with that night jotted down in my sermon journal:

Sermon Notes

Intro

  • Recap last week
  • Focus on who is the Holy Spirit and how he initiates grace.

Fax Machine Story

  • New job at Staples
  • Fax bank info to boss
  • Sandy prints floor plans for Texas Longhorns
  • Jake faxes info for me.
  • No matter how much I tried, I just couldn’t get it.

The Trinity Explained

  • God’s nature is similar to a fax machine.
    • If you think you know everything about God, then you probably don’t know much.
  • Here’s what we know (2):

1) God is three persons.

2) Each person is fully God.

3) There is one God.

  • God is greater than us in every way.
    • Here’s a quote of God describing himself:

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (3).”

  • Even though God is beyond us in scope, the Spirit of God is the soul of the church.

“The fact that the Spirit indwells all believers, and provides the ground of our supernatural unity, results in true Christian fellowship-a sharing that knows no bounds (4).” – James White

  • God’s triune nature is the mystery of unity. Likewise, the church is the same.

Car Story

  • When it comes to money, I’m a hard-core saver and hate spending money.
  • Ben knows how to do the work, so that the car runs smoothly.
  • Like Ben when it comes to cars, God the Spirit does the work because he knows best and we just enjoy the benefits of grace.

The Holy Spirit Powers Grace

  • To understand the Holy Spirit, it’s best to know what he does.
  • In the grace process God the Father compels us to fascination (i.e. Head + Wonder), God the Son compels us to compassion (i.e. Heart + Will), and God the Spirit compels us to action (i.e. Hands + Works).
  • Grace is powered by the Spirit of God and leads to spiritual formation in our lives.

“Through the Holy Spirit we come to know Christ, and by the Holy Spirit’s power we live and grow in Christ, in the service of the king and in the fellowship of his church (5).” – Paul E. Little

  • Unlike the law where people hide behind veils of shame, God the Spirit gives us all of his grace all the time.
  • Because God does the work, he cares more about who we are and where we are in relation to his grace.

“We focus on what God wants us to do and forget the kind of people he wants us to be (6).” – Francis Chan

  • For Christians, where we are in relation to God’s grace matters most.
  • For Non-Christians, who you are matters most to God because he doesn’t know you yet.

Outro

  • All it takes is faith and humility to access all of the Spirit of God’s grace.
  • All it takes is humility and faith to know God and be known by him.

Final Thoughts

Given what had to be covered and the extensive work put into this one, I’m quite proud of the results. For more of my thoughts on this message, make sure to check out the Reunion Church Podcast on YouTube. With that said, Godspeed and Jesus bless.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.pexels.com/
  2. Systematic Theology 2nd Edition, P. 273
  3. Isaiah 55:9 (ESV)
  4. The Forgotten Trinity, P. 151
  5. Know What You Believe, P. 128
  6. Forgotten God, P. 148

An Ordinary Life: Physicality | 8-22-2021

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 11/25/2021

So this sermon was a part of a series called An Ordinary Life based on the book Sensing Jesus by Zack Eswine for Reunion Church during the summer of 2021. This was a series focused on how to live simply within the mundane and enjoy the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life. I think this was a great first series for our church and it really resonated with the community.

I recall during this time I was feeling fairly burned out and tired from the church planting process, but wanted to still deliver a great sermon. What added to my nerves was the fact that I hadn’t preached a sermon in a church in almost 2 years given the pandemic. I was meant to give this message on the 8th of August, but Pastor Andrew and Pastor David had returned from a retreat so they shared on the 15th of August.

Also only 3 other leaders showed up on the 8th, so I didn’t share the message on that night. I honestly felt pretty down that no one showed up and that hurt, especially when you’ve invested so much time to give a valuable message. If I’m being really honest, I cried on the way home. For some reason, when I’m attuned to God’s will I find myself very emotional.

Sermon Prep

Then again, this message was difficult to get a grasp on what to share exactly. The chapter I was sharing and recapping was about 35 pages of dense material. The author writes with a very poetic power that hits all the keys of the heart. Trying to faithfully adapt his work in a 90min small group discussion is incredibly strenuous.

Either way, I prepped ahead of time and with the extra 2 week gap had even more time to tweak the message for the people of God to hear exactly what they needed. If you feel immense pressure to deliver, then I’d say you’re in the right place because you can only rely on God. In your own strength, your sermon is shit. Without the power of the Holy Spirit himself guiding every word, point, and pause the message will not be what they need in that moment. The fear of God fuels great sermons and this one was no different.

We had a good group that night and I think this was one of my better sermons. I got to lean into my strengths as a teacher, which is simplifying complicated concepts. I love expositing complicated ideas in a way that clicks with your average person. It’s challenging, but rewarding in the same respect.

Going back through my notes, I had so many for this message. Explaining how we’re made for a period of time among physical things is a hard idea to get across since it’s so abstract. It’s one of those ideas that needs a lot of padding and stories to pass onto others. Here’s what I had in my sermon journal:

Sermon Notes

Intro

  • Recap last week
  • To live an ordinary life is to know that we are made for a period of time among physical things.
  • As Zack Eswine writes,

“Faith, hope, and love-the matters of our souls-are tried, learned, and lived in close physical proximity to created persons and things within the limits of certain times and places (P. 173).”

  • Read Acts 17:24-26
  1. Limited doesn’t mean less than

“The ministry with its leaders and neighbors is boundaried and limited… But boundaried does not mean inferior (P. 174).”

  • Jerry McFarland’s Monday Night Study.
  • Read 3 John 2
  • How has a physical limitation led to an unlikely opportunity?
  1. A place is a people
  • Read 1 John 1:1-3

“We sensibly minister the gospel of Jesus to ordinary persons in their particular places (P. 177).”

  • How is a place a part of a person’s identity? Why does that matter?
  1. All matter affects the mind
  • Read 2 Timothy 1:3-5

“Bodily senses accompany our interior lives. At times, they can adorn our souls with treasures and at times litter them with trash (P. 177).”

  • What physical thing reminds you of a good memory? What makes you remember? A sound? A vibe?
  1. The boundaries of physical touch
  • Jesus touched everyone in ministry to heal, not to harm.
  • Read Mark 10:14-16
  • What are your physical touch boundaries? 
    • i.e. children, friends, relationships, etc.
  1. Should Christians cuss or swear?
  • Necessary + True
  • Context + Culture (Where + Who)

Outro

  • Final thoughts

Categories to Cuss

  1. Emoting through tragedy or great pain
  2. To shock or surprise
  3. Ordinary communication

“We religious must learn to recognize our own kind of cussing. Religious cussing often does not involve foul four-letter words (P. 204).”

“Language… always comes in the form of resistance or repentance or mixtures of the two (P. 205).”

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, this was a good one. A long message, absolutely and yet a really good discussion from everyone involved. To get more insight into my thoughts on this message, watch this sermon recap I do every week for my church. Also, for more insights into my thoughts on cussing and swearing as Christians, watch this topical podcast episode. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.pexels.com/
  2. https://reunionchurchcc.com/
  3. https://youtu.be/-yrOkwSAyOk
  4. https://youtu.be/lKzzXLYRjd4

Entangled

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 11/25/2021

Here is a poem that I wrote on June 2nd, 2019 that was inspired by a period of time in my life in 2016.

The itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the water spout.

Down came all the rain and washed the spider out.

I don’t know about you, but my life feels like a drought.

How will I make it through when I’m emotionally In-N-Out?

I could draw an S.O.S. or scream out loud mayday.

This life has been nuts and yet when’s my PayDay?

I committed and persisted, yet my life just found a way.

As if all of the build-up of promises never even had a say.

Watching them succeed has me craving to feed greed.

Are these desires and dreams of mine a need?

Among the grass, I’m the new invasive weed.

Outside I look fine, but inside I just bleed.

I say a lot that life is pain,

But God is our only joy.

Is my cute quote in vain?

Is God the imagination of a boy?

I’m a broken city invaded with shame,

Like when the ancient troops took Troy.

I’m a small bug in a spider’s web: entangled.

A dropout loaded with debt: strangled.

Like dried-up roadkill: mangled.

Hung over the edge: dangled.

But then I always remember.

That cold night in December.

When I left the Colorado Film School.

Hit the brakes hard and let the tires cool.

I gave up my childhood dreams

To join someone else’s new team.

I exchanged libraries for sanctuaries.

My anxieties could crush my capillaries.

Out came the beaming sun and dried up all the rain.

So then the itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the spout again.

I had so much to gain and in the end it was all my own vain.

Always thought I was Abel, but I’m just Cain with all his disdain.

Footnotes

  1. Free stock photos · Pexels

The September Sessions

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 9/20/2021

It’s been 3 days since I returned from my sabbatical. I was gone from September 1st through September 17th and learned a lot in that time. I figured out so many ideas in that timeframe, but I’ll just cover some highlights.

Sabbatical Reflections

First of all, being able to reconnect and live life with my family in another state was amazing. Getting the opportunity to spend over 2 weeks on vacation was tremendous. I’ve never done that before. It’s the longest vacation I’ve ever had.

I spent half the time with my sister’s family and then the latter half with my brother’s family. Investing in the people I care about most with the joy that comes from joking around to the more personal conversations you can only have with those you trust. It’s an experience overall that I will never forget. These moments have made permanent marks in my memory.

Then again, my favorite aspect of this sabbatical on that front was just seeing how my family has transformed in just 5 months since I last saw them. How their kids have grown up and are beginning to discover themselves at differing stages of life. For some, learning how to obey or trust is their biggest challenge in life. For others, learning how to do fractions or play football. In it all, I see how I encountered those challenges at those ages and hope in some way they learned how to overcome their challenges better with me being there.

Yet believe it or not, this wasn’t a vacation primarily. In fact, I left with a goal and things to do away from the restrictions of everyday life back in Colorado. This was a writing trip and my focus day-in and day-out was to work on a project I’ve had for over 6 years.

New Book

I’m writing a book. I’ve attempted to finish this book at multiple points, but the timing was never right to finish or even work on it. Too much change. Too many things I needed to go through before explaining to you. It’s what this blog has been building up to this entire time.

Sure, I started this blog in June of 2015 with some thoughts I doodled on a notepad during a flight from my uncle’s wedding in Cabo San Lucas in May of that year. But that wasn’t all that was going on at the time. What began in 2015 was a young 18 year old man deconstructing from faith. This book is about that story.

The story of how I chipped away and crushed the unstable foundations of a fake faith. A worldview that could barely see beyond the borders of modern American Christianity. A faith worth leaving for something better. My hope is that this story is ready and published in 2022. Stay tuned for updates on that front in the months to come on this blog.

New Blog Posts

With that said, I will still write on this blog. I’ve got two recent sermons I’ll translate and post here, along with new content as well. For now, here’s some insight into my plan for this blog:

  • Oct. 15th – Dawn + Joe’s Wedding
  • Nov. 30th – Book Update
  • Dec. 15th – An Ordinary Life: Physicality

For the time being, the book is my main priority and writing here will be less frequent until I’m done. I’m not going to stop writing here. I did just post a poem called Likes For Lust, which addresses how I’m processing issues like the Ravi Zacharias scandal. Outside of that, I’m bunkering down for the foreseeable future to get this done. It has to get done. It’s why I started this whole website in the first place. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless.

Footnotes

  1. Free stock photos · Pexels

Likes For Lust

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 9/5/2021

What’s the world like for women?

What’s it like living among the men?

Everywhere evil is being done to God’s daughters.

Murder she wrote would indicate this is man’s slaughter.

They’re meant to be without blemishes, but we’re the rotters.

If they want to get ahead,

Then they’ve got to get head.

When they’re done, they’re dead.

No purpose, just pleasure instead.

This is the reality of every woman worldwide.

Vultures picking apart the deceased inside.

Crows to corpses, we defy those that died.

We throw stones and wonder why they’re so emotional,

Little did we know that those stones hit only the personal.

It doesn’t matter if it’s Ghandi or Ravi,

Women are always the victim of somebody.

Exit stage left and maybe we can end the tragedy.

We shame their sexuality for public protection.

If this was a courtroom, there should be objections.

We strip their dignity for some short-term satisfaction.

We like to lust, yet they dread all the social notifications.

We say love is lust, but honestly we just love to lust.

From a desire for them to lie with us, we lie for trust.

The currency of man is exchanging beauty for rust.

But God knows you and can redeem beauty from ash.

His standards challenge the heaping strongholds of trash.

Who is the man that forgave the woman caught in adultery?

The one who gave the woman at the well back her human dignity?

It’s the same man that drew sins in sand for the men screaming blasphemy.

In the beginning, women were made co-equals to rule Creation.

It’s here when man failed to protect that sin began its infestation.

Hand-in-hand and rib-to-rib, man and woman were made to live.

When sin was found out, instead of owning it man chose to give.

It was the man of the house who failed his own spouse.

He could have taken responsibility, but his ego refuses.

Now men spit out a theology that espouses excuses.

I suppose my words will not sway opinions of disdain.

Then again, pearls before swine is quite simply vain.

With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless.

Footnotes

  1. Free stock photos · Pexels

Greatness

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 1/30/2021

What is greatness?

Is it being blameless?

Aimless or even famous?

What’s the basis of greatness?

Some say that it’s to be a world famous celebrity.

A person who actualizes into their own manifest destiny.

Etching their earthly impact onto the past pages of history.

And yet how will these crude crusades actually impact eternity?

When the dust finally settles, will we look at what we did apologetically?

For most of us, we’re not brave enough to reconsider our self-made legacy.

Is the cost of fame always the same?

Lurking in our own shadows of shame?

In the hope that someone knows our name?

Who do we blame for what we willingly became?

If this is our ultimate aim, then this is a fixed game.

These fickle aspirations we all have are ironically tame.

Let’s go back and reflect on what greatness is to God.

Have you considered the idea that greatness is a mutual fraud?

That you can go to any side of the world and find this sin abroad?

The lie that whatever you do must be followed by applause is odd.

This is the human mirage.

Our own self-harm sabotage.

To believe we need an entourage,

Is the most dangerous type of barrage.

So then what is the answer to what is great?

How do we end the debate and no longer fixate?

Since when did we define where we draw the line?

If not us, then how do we find out God’s grand design?

I think it lies at the purpose of our ancestors in the garden,

Prior to being cast into the wilderness of an untamed arden.

What was their purpose before sin sowed its seed into the soul?

What was greatness to God before our hearts corrupted into coal?

As Zack Eswine in his book puts it in extensive literary poetry,

“Heroic moments have as their aim the recovery of the ordinary (2).”

That is, what we deam ordinary is in actuality the God-given extraordinary.

The way to make a global difference starts when we embrace our own locality.

As imagers of God our title assumes responsibility.

Both to our Earth and its creatures, along with all of humanity.

Greatness is ultimately the pursuit of cultivating God’s creativity.

Why else would Jesus dwell among us for 30 years before starting his ministry?

Could it be that greatness is defined by an example of Eden-like mundane activity?

A life well lived that is needed, but not known beyond a town in the vastness of our galaxy.

With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless.

Footnotes

  1. Free stock photos · Pexels
  2. Sensing Jesus, P. 48