If God Said It: Faith or Wishful Thinking

If God Said It: Faith or Wishful Thinking

Since I have grown up in a charismatic, Pentecostal community, “words from the Lord” are often claimed or spoken in public settings as well as experienced in personal prayer times. I won’t pretend to know any statistic on what percentage are formed from wishful thinking or construed by personal benefit or belief and how many are straight words from out creator to a human being, but I do believe both do occur at a higher rate then anyone understands. I’ve personally had many instances where I thought I heard from God, but I had twisted it into an idea that was totally different from what I initially heard.

Clarification: Some people hear the audible voice of the Lord, but any instance I’m talking about that has happened in my life so far has been either something I felt, more than just a thought in my head, but something I literally felt within myself like a thought, but stronger and so much more true; or something I thought to do that was far out of normal, yet I couldn’t help but know I needed to do it. Later I realized it would have either encourage them, or physically and/or spiritually help them out in a desperate time.

On the flip side of things, I’ve also listened to the Word for the Lord, acted on it, and literally have seen miracles. Some times though, there are things that apply to us on a longer-term scale. All that other stuff leads to influence there times.

When we don’t see results or evidence right away, how do we react?

This question isn’t easy. I’ve had things spoken over me plenty of times from people and felt things very strongly on occasions as well. Some of these things seemed off the wall and some seemed like they cut me to the core when I heard them but how should I react?

I’m going to tell you anything partaking to my advice on these things and pretty much all my blog post are started with at least a simple prayer for the Lord to teach me through his Holy Spirit on these topics. This next bit of advice is both from personal experience and from Jesus, so pray before and after taking advice from humans and know your Bible. It is quite clear on lots of things. So that’s basically my first point on how to react. Stay in constant contact with God and as you get to know him, you’ll get to know his character. So read your Bible while you spend time with him, pray and sing while you spend time, write when you spend time. Always remember, Jesus is just as relatable as your closest friend.

Also, If it lines up with the Bible and it sounds too big or out of your league or something you would love to do, but you can’t even imagine yourself there, take steps toward you goals. Set yourself up for success and see where God takes you and don’t be afraid to take risks. This might sound like a business model, but it’s so much more grand then that. This includes radically serving Jesus with things that don’t even make sense to normal standards. You can’t out give God, but there is one thing that I have to say that is the most freeing.

Be ok with whatever God has for you. Whatever you think you want at this point is only a part or the shadow of what God wants to give to you. When we take a Word we receive, check it out with the character of God through the Bible and prayer, and start moving toward some of these goals, we will find ourselves in tough times. How do you treat that moment? Do you say, that’s awesome! If that is from the Lord, I want it, and if not, I don’t.

What am I doing now? Waiting, learning other unrelated lessons, learning to love Jesus and praying that if the words spoken were from the Lord, that I would stay true to my God and fulfill them, not out of obligation, but love.

Can we always know for sure? All I can say is sometimes, we wait and see, and in Christ, may all Glory go to him!

Longing for the Sea (Poem)

Longing for the Sea (Poem)

I’ve never sailed, but I’m in love with the sea. Theres something about that horizon that is so out of reach. It’s so tangible, yet so far beyond anything I could dream. I can see it, and I’ve heard her voice so sweet as it crashes in on my ears, melodies I often sing solo in my head, accompanied by the songs of the wind and birds in harmony.

I’ve felt the sands of the beach and the waves as they come in in such violent, and sometimes subtle breaths that speak. There is a calm, yet an authority in her voice that draws me back with longing.

Distance is one enemy, but in the light she sees me is far different then the beauty I see when I admire her in her entirety. I dream about the waves, her hair, and the depth, her soul, and the ever active motion, the evidence of her joy. But how does she sees me?

As an obstacle, something hindering her pattern of life, causing turbulence where it hadn’t been? As someone to toss to and fro, or does she even know the impact she causes me as I throw myself to her, and within seconds, I’m thrown face first into the ground, reality, telling me the harmony I thought we could sing were being sung in two different keys, and though I may find a way to sing in her key, right now it’s out of my range, out of timing, the wave pattern and my beginner body surfing.

Will I ever sail in time with her beat? Should I forget the dream, fall in love with the mountains or the caves or the trees? Should I try to build a boat of my own or keep imagining what it could look like, me and the sea? But I have no boat to board. Should I wait for my companion, a master builder and veteran of the sea and the wind, to build my ship, strong and faithful, sturdy and reliable, built to accompany the ocean and the breeze. I have waited and I shall continue; And ocean, no matter what you think or feel or if you even care that I’m here, I will think of you fondly and dream of setting my sails. I don’t know you, but I love you.

Loving Impurely is Still Love

Loving Impurely is Still Love

Picture yourself in a world void of love, something like our social media pages, yet worse. Imagine that every person had no motive that didn’t directly benefit themselves. That every action close to love was known to be fraudulent and skewed, in order for the person intending to use the other to walk over. To some of us, this twisted fantasy doesn’t sound too far off from reality, but none the less, I am convinced that, if acknowledged or not, each and every one of us have received love at one point or another. You may have received it from a parent, guardian, teacher, stranger, partner or friend, but you indeed have received and recognized some sort of love.

I say this because we all love differently. As I pondered this truth, I remember my one friend telling me that when he was into drugs, he would “help out” or show “love” to some of the younger (elementary, middle schooled, freshman) kids by hooking them up with a little extra weed then they paid for. As he has been clean now for years, thanks to Jesus through Teen Challenge and personal encounters with Him, he said he thinks back to that and how twisted his perception of love was.

I see people trying to show love through putting out for a partner because that’s what they want. I see people trying to show love through calling someone a name or bringing them down in the name of good fun. I see people trying to show love by spending all kinds of money, to telling someone their lifestyle is ok even through it is self destructive, saying they’re loving them the way they are. In the same way, I’ve seen people love through serving, spending time, giving, listening, comforting, and so many other ways.

In all these different scenarios, these people are loving the way they have observed another love. If they first hand observed this love or observed it from a video or book or what have you. This really had me thinking; are any of these motives really pure? Can humans really love for the sake of nothing other then the person receiving something beneficial and true without expecting anything in return?

I was hoping to say no, because I can’t think of almost any times I served someone not expecting or hoping for a thank you, money, recognition, friendship, a girl’s reciprocal emotions/interest or any number of things, but I can’t say that the love I’ve shown in these places were in any way malicious. Not to say they never have been, but to love without expectations is perfect love, but love with positive motives, that benefit the other mostly with side effects that elevate oneself is still love.

But what if we want to love more purely? How do we as humans acheve a love that may not be fully pure in motivation, but is really beneficial to another, and is really love? The easy answer? We must encounter love from Love himself!

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

Before I encountered Jesus for real, I wanted to give people advice, and it was always fine, but it wasn’t out of love from and for Jesus. As I got to and get to know him more, I am more able to walk out that love. As I read about his life and about his character throughout the entire Bible, I learn even more about how to love. coming back to a previously stated concept, we love how we observe love. I want to observe the number one lover, incomparable to any other, so that my love, though possibly impure at it’s roots, are coming from the purest source of love.

Are you interested in receiving and giving this kind of love? (me too, I’ll always mess up and need to return to this!) Ask Jesus to show you his love, beyond just his rules, but show you his love! Admit your wrongs and ask him to take all of the weight that goes along with them, and take a step of faith! God honors a humble heart and responds to a willing heart! You’re never too far gone, you’ve never crossed him too many times, cures with his name more then he can handle; you’ve never said he’s not real or worth it enough to stop him from wanting your life, your heart, your spirit and all of your insecurities and shortcomings. He is patiently waiting for you. Give it all to him! It will not always be EASY, but you will NOT regret it!

 

Contact me or comment if you want to talk more about this life changing decision! God bless you.

Our Birthday: Twin-ship

Our Birthday: Twin-ship

“Do you like being a twin?”

This is one of my most frequently asked questions. I don’t dislike it, as much as I used to. My answer had always previously been something along the lines of, “I’ve always been a twin, but it’s cool I guess…” with fake laughter to follow, attempting to break the awkward silence. Today being my birthday, I get this question about being a twin: “do you like sharing your birthday or not really?” My response was always similar to the answer of the other question. But what are people wondering this for? Usually I would guess because it’s something different; something they either dreamed of or thanked God they did not have; something they’ve always wondered what it would be like.

To me, being a twin is an extra title I often don’t think about. Not because Stephen isn’t awesome or that we aren’t close, but because I identify myself as an individual, not a multiple, and I think this is a healthy thing that I hadn’t always done. I’ve learned to let go of a lot of insecurities through my early adult years (that I am still going through and growing through, at 22.) This was also installed in us at a young age to be ourselves and that it is good and ok to be unique.

The ironic part is as we grow older and separate into much different atmospheres and work places, we seem to be growing a lot more alike. We are both pursuing much different things, but through the same looking glass of Jesus. Our differences compliment the others strengths and our weaknesses keep us humble, yet fully complete. It has been an amazingly diverse and evolving relationship through the years, but has never been healthier since we have both for real taken our human efforts and focused them to Jesus, then others, and lastly ourselves.

Sharing life with Stephen is a blessing I will always cherish and will always be thankful to the Lord for because he’s helped challenge, love, lift up, and walk beside me in this journey of becoming the man I am today. He’s special to me. We evolved from fetal humans to full grown 22 year olds together, never too far from each other, and though we won’t always live under the same roof or possibly even the same country forever, nothing can separate the bond of twin-ship.

Ps. some honorable mentions of twin questions:

Q: Is twin telepathy a real thing?

A: Kinda, but not at all.

Q: Who is older?

A: No comment ( or he might have been born first, but I was conceived first)

Q: Are you identical?

A: No, we are our own eggs. We just happen to look similar.

Q: Who’s the favorite?

A: tbd

My Life is NOT My Own

My Life is NOT My Own

Life.

This word has been presented to me year after year by platform after platform. I’ve been told it’s found in letting go and I’ve struggled with the thought of my life being out of my control, my life not being my own. This notion has always been in my mind because of repetition in teaching and songs, written in my poems, but never being written on my hear in more then dry erase on a white board.

Since a young age, I lived for the spotlight. Being the youngest, being told go away, you’re too young or not yet were sucker punches that to me then, didn’t make sense. When your identity is in being along, being alone doesn’t leave much identity in the mix.

As grew up, where acceptance lacked, I gained in grit, and a determination to find a way to be known by the likes of anyone willing to notice. With each step into a new year, I tied myself to a new tactic, from sports like baseball and gymnastics to humor and wow factor. I pursued women, lust and pornography to try and fill the empty feeling my shallow friendships and rejection from the last girl couldn’t fill within me.

This lead my into a hatred of myself and my own body, my own mind and identity. My christianity was my life in the light, my vice in conventions and retreats, but it was my shame in the evenings and in the deleted history from my phone screen, but no matter how hard I’ve tried to delete that history, the memories and shame would never delete.

My comfort soon came to me in routine. This routine was comfortable, like being in a prison cell. The routine creates normality, but not because it becomes better, but because there is survival in the numbing, but no, no there is not living. I would start out the week with a community, broken, yet free, spotted with others like me. I would fill my mind with words and quotations, to later fill my schedule with anything that would give me my fix, pick any from above, whatever one I could get. If it was the word of God, I’d meditate on it, to later forget, and be filled with loneliness again, to turn to another vice much more destructive.

See, religion is all fine and dandy, and in the scripture, there are rules that have helped frame me into a moral human being, but without Christ Jesus, those were just words. Words that cut me open and showed me how dirty I really was inside. But oh how life is different on this day!

FLASH BACK: 2014, filled with pain, emptiness, and a glimmer of hope.

FASTFORWARD: 2015,  a year of thanksgiving, renewed life through Jesus Christ, realizing not just everyone else, but I was loved and adopted by my creator, nothing inside could change that he is love and he is light. I became a friend with my savior.

FASTFORWAR: 2016, the pain and emptiness had not been dealt with in full back from 2014, and struggles came and went, and complacency was my reality, but not my intent. Perseverance and self control were in the development stages, as I re-indulged myself in some of the sin I claimed freedom from just a year prior, as I re-applied shame and condemnation daily, like that old Coppertone sunscreen. It went on thick, but the more I rubbed it to try and hide it, it sunk deeper in to the pores of my being.

FASTFORWARD: 2017, a year starting with not wanting any friendship with complacency, not just interested in intimacy with my creator and king, but desiring to give him everything.

NOW: My identity in him is the only thing I’ve ever found to be satisfying, and as I give away my life, I find myself so alive, a truth that only God knows why, but he promises it to all who are willing to give Him their hears. Now when I start to fall into thoughts or actions of lust, personal condemnation, self pity, or identity in people and things, I come back to Jesus quicker then ever, with surrender. I know where life is, I’ve known where life is, but I now confess it with my mouth AND believe it in my heart; Jesus Christ is Lord!

I am not only saved, but set free. If you can’t say the same, I challenge you to join me.

Don’t Fear: More than Bee Stings and Honey

Don’t Fear: More than Bee Stings and Honey

Meet just a few of my pets! Normal pets haven’t necessarily been something I’ve had for the most part. I started with worms and bugs, moved to toads (up to 4 or 5 by the end), to hamsters, to a rabbit (for a week, but it died unexpectedly and seemingly for little to no reason) to a wonderful puppy, Bean, who was tragically hit by a car, to now, about a year or so later, to bees.

These creatures are so much smarter then I realized and frankly so much more necessary then I ever imagined!

These are some pictures of when I first introduced my bees to their hives.

 

Now, months later, they are two hive bodies high (the deeper boxes) and as of lately, two honey supers (the shallower boxes) high!

 

They’ve been improving and growing in leaps and bounds, but it’s more than just about a hobby or anything that has to do with me. It has to do with bees, food and God’s creation.

These honey bees play one of the biggest roles in pollenation for a lot of our crops. They’ve been struggling to survive because of how our humanity treats our environment, invasive species and other implications resulting in bees dying off, CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) and Africanization. (These problems are problems I understand are on the front burner here in the USA, but I’m sure if you’re not from the US, there might be similar or different things going on with your bees.)

These implications are huge, and I honor anyone who is involved in research and development for these different areas to try and reverse some of the causes and effects we have created, but how can someone like you and me make a difference? Well, the most direct way, if you have the funds is to start a couple hives of your own! There are probably hundreds, if not thousands of videos and resources for anyone to learn how to get started from the city to the country.

For me, to make it more feasible, I started my hives with a friend; my cousin Hunter. This helped divert the cost and also gives you some fall back if you need a hand harvesting honey, inspecting a hive, or even just with motivation. This has been helpful for me and has made it a lot more fun!

WARNING: Honey bees are NOT aggressive creatures. They are much more focused on supporting the hive’s health then stinging you, that results in their own death. Honey bees are only going sting you if they feel like you are a threat to their hive or naturally if they get caught somewhere they can’t escape, like under your foot, piece of clothing or between your arm and side or legs or something to that nature. With the correct PPE (personal protective equipment) getting stung is inevitable, but not something to fear. Also, their are different remedies for curing the pain of a bee sting nearly instantaneously.

They are a lot of fun, and ironically provide for a very relaxing hobby. There is a lot to learn and so much more I need to learn, so I would highly suggest some personal research, contacting some local bee keepers and always asking questions from them and also the many forums on line. Between my cousin and I, it cost around $1,000 to get started and it will cost some more hear and there, but that is the one big number expense for starting two hives with some PPE and tools included, but remember, if you’re hives prove to be healthy and are taken care of correctly, you will be able to harvest honey yearly (excluding the first year) that will offset many of the expenses through the years.

What if you can’t start a hive? What can you do? Well I’m sure there are even more options then this, but be involved in supporting your local bee farmers and get educated on ways to help around where you live to support the bees with your vote or your voice.

These bees are the reason we have life, so lets make sure their thriving! God bless you and I’ll leave you with this quote:

“If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.”

-Albert Einstein

FULL of Emptiness (Poem)

FULL of Emptiness (Poem)

I am full, yet I am empty. It is not simply content that can fill the void inside of me, but only silence; only solitude will truly bring me into a place of fullness of joy and identity.

To say all the right things outwardly, to do all the right things publicly, it only blows up the outward appearance like a balloon. From another’s vantage point, it creates an illusion of fullness, while in reality, it only makes the emptiness that much greater.

As I sit, I saturate, and I absorb as I meditate. I am satisfied as I loosen my belt and rest, as I sease to strive. This phenomenon does not exist for irony’s sake, but for the one that did create, who does not cease in His goodness, who does not falter in any way.

We’re filled when we’re empty, we’re strong when we’re weary, we know peace in calamity, and we’re wise when we embrace simplicity.

This is true, because at the end of our abilities, we are able to embrace humility. At the end of ourselves, in the rest of our Heavenly Father, we are filled.

So I throw aside all of my distractions, sit in His presence and saturate in His goodness, meditate on His word and absorb it’s challenges and its promises that hold true. I’ll rest in his peace, even when everything around me is in peaces, and in simple faith is where my strength and confidence will stand undefeated.

I know the practicals, and I believe it in my mind, but Jesus, would you change my heart.

 

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (ESV)