Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back to the Beginning

In about two days, I'll be a student again. It seems like teaching was a million years away. I can't quite come to grips with it. I was at a college campus on Tuesday and these two freshmen walked up and started talking to me. At first the conversation was normal until I was hit with the overwhelming realization that 6 months ago I would've been their teacher. That makes me... old. This week has been one to-do list after the other and, as much as I fight the irreversable fact that the younger version of me is off in some distant universe, the truth is that with each passing day I'm walking one step closer to nose-hairs and potbellies (these being my biggest two reasons why I never want to be old).

And I guess being a student makes the whole aging process a bit more... complicated. As a 23-year old, I struggle to stay awake past 10 o'clock without three cups of that liquid gold we mortals have dubbed "coffee". All-nighters are definitely something that I need to leave in yesteryear. Some things will be different (finding some way to juggle school and life) while others undoubtedly will be the same.

With school gawking at me from right around the corner, a lot of memories have come flooding back. I can laugh and remember how terrified/nervous/awkward I was during my first day of high-school. And a serious head-shake is warranted at the thought of how cool I tried to be in college... In hindsight, most of the times I tried to be cool (white-tees, rattails, afros, baggy pants, and FUBU) come off as embarrassingly corny. In fact, a trip home is definitely needed to destroy some of the evidence that these events actually took place (i.e. me having permanent residence on the sitting on the step). But I guess most of all I can look at harsh break-ups, rejection letters, failures, friendships and success from a different vantage point.

Lately I've been noticing how the root of bitterness destroys relationships within my own family and, maybe even more importantly, how it pollutes memories. Instead of the past being something we can laugh over, it becomes a justification for emotions. And I guess, like everything else, it all goes back to Adam and Eve (or... Eve cause it was all her fault right?). We could all hate Adam for messing up... everything. But then again, God had a plan in place to demonstrate his glory and his grace. Even though I find myself filled with it at times, I don't really believe in regret. It all depends on perspective.

Fight to believe that in your pursuit of God, the embarrassing, painful, surprisingly uncomfortable moments are displaying his amazing glory. The gospel transforms lives to the glory of a Risen King. He's not some evil kid with a magnifying glass trying to make our lives suck, there's a purpose to it all. Because if you don't have faith in his sovereignty, his purpose, his plan, his glory... at the end of the day what do you really have?

Friday, August 19, 2011

War Games

One week until classes start!!! I’ve been trying to bang out the reading (800+$ of books… going green? Not so much) but lately I’ve been less than productive. This past weekend was another “Homeless Grill-Out” and it was awesome. I met so many amazing people. My group went through the line and prayed with different people (both Christians and non-Christians). I even got to share a poem at one point! It’s amazing to see how God works. I also started marathon training. So far the knees are holding up well. The Machine is back!!

For the past two months I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time at Starbucks drinking crappy Frappuccinos, mocha lattes, and every other manly drink that they sell. Some call me an addict but I prefer the term “connoisseur of coffee”. While perusing the pages of Systematic Theology by Wayne Gruden and Dispensationalism by Charles Ryrie, I can’t help but hope that this theology pierces my heart and changes the way that I live. I don’t want to become a proud(er) Christian who knows a bunch of head knowledge, has memorized a bunch of scripture, and has mastered the art of quiet time but doesn’t truly know God.

At any rate, last night I was having an… interesting night before I went to sleep. As I sat/laid there battling thoughts/fears of every kind I actually started to think of truth. At one point I might have yelled out loud: "No... I want the real thing!" and then began to thank God for his timing and his will. All sin, whether it’s lust, anger, fear… insert term here, boils down to a simple, plain, flat out lie. It’s a choice between illusions and certainties. I guess it doesn’t take a degree in “War Strategy” to figure out that if you can get your enemy to pursue something that’s not there, he’ll be pretty easy to take out. Is our Christian walk any different? Fear over not having enough money to pay bills is really a question of God’s promise of provision and His character (both of which are the definition of truth). Lust and sexual immorality are perversions of the beauty that God has created in marriage and the wonder of communion with Him. The list goes on and on.

Take it from an expert sinner (yours truly), the lie can’t hold a candle to the real thing (ain’t nothing like the real thing baby… ain’t nothing like the real thing… don’t act like you don’t know the song!). A girlfriend will never give you the satisfaction that God delivers on the daily, worry and repeated financial analysis/budgeting will never provide the certainty and peace that comes from trusting in God’s promise. I hope that in the face of temptation you’re able to analyze the option that’s actually being presented to you and then realize how much it sucks. But even more importantly, the best Wartime Strategy that I know is to really relish the joy of being in God’s presence and finding Him as the source of ultimate satisfaction.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Artist

All week I’ve been struggling (I mean… seriously struggling…) to pick up graphic design and navigate the oasis of writer’s block. As I created one awful piece of typography after another while watching my fingers literally slip off of the keyboard as they dripped with sweat (probably had more to do with the fact that it’s 115 degrees outside and I don’t use the AC), I realized that art is hard… well for some of us. Below is a quote from Octavious Newman, designer of B3ar Fruit (here’s the whole speech):

“God’s a beast… I mean look at yourselves. Go outside, the sun is not wack… The stuff that God creates, it’s really dope… it really is.” – Octavious Newman

During my quite time today, I was reminded of the fact that God didn’t struggle with creation. He’s the most awesome poet of all time, his words created a literal world. And everything in it is always in style. Can you ever really tell Aurora Borealis that it’s not cool anymore? While I hope my own poems have some redeeming quality to them, God was the only fit to evaluate his creation.

And that goes for our own lives as well. God is creating sonnets, poems, concertos and ensembles, fresco, paintings, and graphic designs of the lives of His people (okay maybe not graphic designs…). While they may suck in the moment or don’t look all that hot from the ground view, He’s the only one fit to evaluate his creation… and for all intensive purposes… it’s art.

Below is a poem I wrote earlier today. I’ve also included a link to a site that has a few spoken word pieces on it. I hope they point you towards the Masterful Architect.


Fingernails, ooze,

Dripping dollops of sulfur

Leaving a perfect canvas tainted.

Bleach and baking soda

Retreat to the shelter of paper towels

As the stain surges forward,

Engulfing the knuckles,

Swallowing the wrists.

Guilty and unclean,

A spiritual bulimic,

As stomach acid refuses to catalyze

Enzymes of esoteric promises.

Torah’s whole grains and fiber

prove to much for a fragile frame

Accustomed to the sanctuary of milky


O to be satisfied…

Memories of famished and

Parched yesterdays bubble,

Boiling to the surface of a

Wheat grass tonic.

Adding hyssop and tomato paste,

The iron wool of a wooden cross

Scrapes skin from wrinkled fingers.

But o’ to be satisfied…

Somewhere in the pasture of purification,

Peace lies, waiting to be uncovered.

Somewhere beneath the layered dirt,

True love’s letter gazes back with

Unadulterated certainty.

As tender hands fold gingerly

Cupping a brittle assurance,

The hope of finding celestial courts

Burns anew as living water whispers

Confidence to cracked and splintered lips.

But oh gaze on you with rehabilitated eyes

For then I will be satisfied.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Moving Blues

A few weeks ago, the thought of owning a home didn’t make any sense in my feeble human mind. I mean, it’s like getting married and having kids… except without any of the perks. Owning a house also grants you the ridiculous ability to store, locate, and hoard an incomprehensible amount of junk.

But then last week happened and I was privileged to move from one apartment to the other (P.S. if you don’t know by now… if I ever use the word privileged I’m being sarcastic). Somehow this glorious event took me an entire week and it was here that I came to the irrevocable conclusion that moving sucks… a lot. Packing and unpacking, standing out in the blistering heat holding a box of glorified trash, and don’t even get me started on steps (who invented them and why!?!?). Yes, I hate moving.

Ironically, this serves as an easy spiritual metaphor for my life… kind of darned if you do, darned if you don’t. It’s been pretty evident that God is moving me from “teacher” to “missions (fingers crossed)”. And while I’m excited about the destination, I’m not really feeling the transition. As I told a friend earlier this week, I’ve been in full Israelite mode. In Exodus the Children of God begged Him to send them back into slavery because they were hating the journey even though they longed for the destination. They had been delivered, their prayers had been answered… and all they could do was wish that they had never prayed in the first place.

Perhaps, in some overly complicated and philosophical way that is far beyond my comprehension, the journey is necessary to prepare you for the destination. In my own life that means the being “financially constrained” (the politically correct way of saying that my life is being limited by a budget), flustered as to how I’ll balance school and work, and jobless is what I need right now. Ugh… that is definitely a tough pill to swallow but then again this life is a life of transitions. If our eternal destination is someplace else… won’t we always be in a constant state of flux?

At any rate, the juice will be worth the squeeze and, as I cram to prepare for Open Mic nights, prepare lessons for Adult Bible Fellowship, and master Greek and Ancient Hebrew… there’s comfort in that truth. Call it growing pains, moving blues, or transitional lamentations (I made that last one up J)… I just know with certainty that as much as I hate transitions and waiting… they’re both essentials and somehow exalt the King’s Glory. And in the end, isn’t that enough to help us suck it up and keep on walking?