Some thoughts on the passing of DMX

I was never the biggest fan of his music, though he had a few songs that I really loved. As a kid my dad always gave me grief for listening to him, haha.

I never gave much stock to him being a person of faith, apart from the rough image he portrayed. Hell, I wasn’t even a Christian at the time that he first mentioned it publicly.

I also didn’t know that he wrestled with addiction, drug addiction at that. In my own faith journey, I realize that every one of us has things that we battle with every day. Be it pride, food, praise from others and the like.

And yet , the responses of some Christians truly shock me. Coming off as though they never wrestled against anything bigger than themselves.

Yes we need to be doing everything we can to make war against sin that so easily entangles. But to speak as though you are righteous in yourself is not the heart of God.

I think so Christians either don’t know or have forgotten that, when Christ was on the cross. He became the propitiation for our sins. Meaning that he took on the filth of our sin that we deserve on himself. And in exchange gave us his righteousness so that when the father looks at us. He sees the perfect and beautiful image of his son Jesus.

And dare I say that any of us will make to the presence of Christ 100% perfect. It’s because of his finished work and presence of the spirit that carries us home that final day. Not our own works. Let us make every effort, not to look on others with self-righteous eyes.

A Quick Response to Raphael Warnock

Some days ago, Rev Warnock tweeted and quickly deleted the following statement:

“The meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” declared Warnock. “Whether you are Christian or not, through a commitment to helping others we are able to save ourselves.”

Needless to say his statement troubles and frustrates me, one because it is not a biblically accurate statement. Take for example 2 Timothy 1:9:

9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

Yes, the book of James even tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26. But it is not as though he is saying that our works will save us. But that they are a response to the faith we have by Gods grace. Else where in scripture we are told that God has prepared good works for us (EPH 2:10).

Another reason this irks me , is because he is leading people astray. I have surveyed every religion the world has to offer. And nothing has brought me more peace and assurance than the grace of Jesus Christ. I did NOTHING to deserve this. Yet through Gods kindness was I brought to repentance.

You or I could never know if we have done enough good works to save ourselves, we in a sense would be slaves and would perform our supposed good works. Not because we wanted to serve others, but because we wanted to score points (enough points that is) to obtain our salvation. This is not good news at all.

My New book is Out!

My new book “A Mad Love and A Shameless Audacity ” is out today! It’s a simple message of remembering how madly God has loved us through Christ. Even if you have been a Christian your whole life, are wrestling with doubt or you discover Gods mad love for you-for the first time- this book is for you!

My Thoughts on The Fallen Ravi Zacharias

If you’re a Christian, then you have probably heard about the horribly heat breaking news about the ever popular Ravi Zacharias. If you haven’t here is the skinny to read more about it:

https://www.rzim.org/read/rzim-updates/update-from-rzim-board-allegations-against-ravi-zacharias

Many Christians have posted their responses both in written and video form, a lot have already said similar things that I have wanted to write about. Which is why I haven’t written anything. This dark and twisted situation has really weighed heaven on my heart. Sin affects us all, it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, black or white, republican or democrat. The scriptures say that sin is crouching at our door and we must master it. People die in their sins every day, and as such some are eternally separated from God. Many have even gone as far to defend Ravi… Which I don’t think is a wise option, to defend someone on this level, is to not take the victims of his sin seriously.

Many others in the Christian circles were extremely shocked and taken back by his actions, which is understandable. I didn’t think that-that was possible. Not for Ravi, I’ve watched countless hours of his lectures and even read many books. Thinking that he was one amazing human, but at the same time, maybe that’s the problem. We Christians can sometimes forget that humans are humans first, and as such are very capable of sin and in this case great evil. Which is also why, we should never put any human on any type of pedestal regardless of what vocation they’re in. Quite simply, when we do that we will be let down and horrified time and again when we hear of the sins of others. The one that deserves to be on a pedestal is the God man himself- Jesus Christ.

            The bible is full of people that are broken and sinful people that God loved, Noah was Gods chosen agent to build the ark, and after doing so the man gets drunk. David is another classic example, he was a man who struggled deeply with his own lust, Peter.. Well he never really got it right. Did God condone this? No, by no means. God calls us to holiness every single moment of each day. God also knows that we will sin and fall short of the mark, and yet this is also why we are also told to confess our sin to one another. I think the really problem with Ravi, is that he let his own sin become so comfortable. Not baring your cross and forsaking his own sin.

It might shock you to know, that when I was in bible college porn was a thorn in my side. You know how I combated it? By getting honest and telling a friend. To be honest, lust has always been a struggle for me. However, each day that God breathes life in me I choose to fight the good fight. In my estimation, in life it doesn’t matter how many times you fall, but how many times you keep getting back up and fighting with the armor and sword that God graciously provides us.

            This is what Ravi didn’t do… The enemy had his way with the mind and soul and lust with his weapon of choice. Throughout my journey of being a Christian, I’ve never been able to wrap my head around, why some experience total victory over sin, and temptation doesn’t nip at their heels and others seem to wrestle their whole life-myself included. The main point here is this, sad endings to stories like this can happen to anyone, please do not think you are above anyone else or sins power. Sin is serious and grievous to the heart of God. And yet, the father sent his son Jesus, to take the wrath of God upon himself, so that all who place their faith in him might graciously be called children of God.   

Do not let sin and darkness reign in your mind and body, if you wrestle with sin in any capacity. Do not let it sit in the quiet, it will only fester and become darker. As the enemy desires. Find people that are trustworthy, honest and safe to talk to, start fighting daily for the very life of our souls depend on it.         

The Reality of Knife Defense (From an Adaptive Perspective)

I originally tried to have the following entry published in a few magazines, but nothing came of it:

Having to defend oneself is a scary endeavor, even when some claim to have no fear at all when it comes to the possible reality.  One could have over twenty years over martial arts training under their belt, but simply because they are human means that they can be caught off guard the same way anyone can. This could be a myriad of attacks, and while  It’s not something we readily want to admit or think about, but it is true none-the- less. And yet, even in not wanting to think about these realities, I’ll submit to you that thinking about these realities, are part of what might actually help us to go home safely at night. You want to know what plays in my mind a lot? Being attacked by a knife, to make matters even scarier, being attacked by a knife while I’m in my wheel-chair or standing with my crutches.

I’m not simply talking about someone holding a knife to my throat, but rather pumping the knife in an out of my body and me not being able to do anything about it. Even with over thirty five of my arts experience under my belt, being an instructor under the Jeet Kune Do Grappling Association, which is very wide array of styles under one banner and a purple belt in BJJ, this reality still scares the hell out of me. Not only for myself but for others like myself. The type of cerebral palsy that I was born with, is very mild compared to some. Even with it affecting the right side of my body (I don’t have full mobility and use of my right arm) and balance in my legs. I can still work out and take care of myself fairly well. The problem is getting my body to react fast enough when it’s truly needed.

            As a youngster, I grew up learning various disciplines of FMA, learning all kinds of stick and knife attacks, flow drills and jaw dropping knife disarms. I say jaw dropping because as a kid, it was amazing to see how one could easily strip the knife away from someone or smack it out of the attackers hand. As I grew a bit older and was in college, I began to have what I’d call a Martial Crisis. Which really means that I began to doubt and question all that I have been taught throughout my martial arts journey. It was extremely uncomfortable to say the least, there I was sitting in my dorm looking up real knife attacks on YouTube. I was in a state of shock, never have I ever saw so quick and brutal attacks in my life. And most certainly, it was not flowing slice and dice that I was taught in Kali, no this was straight up violence and evil. Then I read stories of an elderly lady in a wheel chair who was stabbed to death a long with her care provider.

Reality set in, and I wanted to find options for myself and others, not so disabled people could become the adaptive version of Jason Bourne. But being able to provide a fighting chance. Yes, I’m deeply aware there are some people that won’t be able to defend themselves at all, while others may have a sharp mind, and little to no use of their limbs at all. Even still, if the mind still is working, then I want people to understand situational awareness and various pre-contact warning signs. For if a person with a care provider or friend can notice a person or particular context that seems un-easy that is a job well done. If, on the other hand, a person similar to myself is faced with such a scary and even reality, what then are we to do? In all my years of teaching adaptive self -defense, the most annoying statement I hear is “run-away”.

            Run away? That honestly makes me laugh, because even the most mild cases of CP can’t run all that well or fast. So, the idea that most knife attacks happen in close proximity and the understanding that people like myself are simply going to “runaway” is complete non sense. Even if I was attempting to turn away in my wheel-chair and get away, still my back is exposed and that’s a whole other nightmare. Then there’s “Just shoot’em” (yes I’ve heard that too). As one who is pro conceal carry, learning how to use a firearm is an area that I preach for disabled people to learn, as it is a great means of defense. However, to think that a person is always going to be able to access their gun or knife even, in a quick enough fashion is very detrimental and  misleading. If an attacker is already assaulting you, and your only means of defense your EDC, it’s going to really suck for you. I’ve even heard people say “Make space and get a weapon”. I can kind of get behind this, kind of. For if a person has the mobility and dexterity to make space against someone bigger and stronger than them, great. But guess what? Its still going to be hard! And what happens when you do access your weapon, and the attacker still manages to pin your weapon baring hand? What then? Do you have the skills to fight from there? These are all things that one has to consider in their daily training exploration.

So what’s my solution then, you ask? Controlling the limb baring arm as best you can, knowing that it will be the hardest fight for your life. If one is an wheel chair, the simplest option (and scariest) is to let the knife come to you,  most of the knife defense video’s that pertain to seated knife defense are about as fancy as most Kali demonstrations, I don’t trust them. And when it really comes to it, your going to going against real resistance. So trying to chase the knife baring arm, or redirect in mid air is rather stupid to me. In my training, what has worked is getting some sort of deep control of the arm and pinning it to your body or even wheel-chair. From there, is where we deal with energy, meaning that the attacker tries to pull his (or her) limb baring arm back. In which case (as I have found) you either have to go with the energy the attacker gives, which might mean falling to the ground with them, maintaining control and fighting your way to a better position, or at the very least maintaining control until help comes- if it does.

This is of course, is not without risk, the reality of the blade touching your body is very high. However, in our daily training we learn to not give up and develop emotional and mental resilience as every warrior should.         

                     

Thoughts on Relational PTSD

I recently heard George Bruno talk about relationship shell shock or PTSD on his YouTube channel, quite honestly relational shell shock was not something that would have come to mind. As it relates to my fear of entering back into the dating realm. However, I do believe that it is true non the less.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a huge desire to meet an amazing woman and unfold a new chapter of life together. And yet, I’m scared. Scared of what you ask? Entering another relationship with a woman who judges me on the merits of my life, and how much money there is in my bank account.

Yes, money is important but it is the only important factor and value in life. I’m scared to meet a woman that is never happy, constantly up and down and hardly ever encouraging. I want the opposite, but as I said in yesterday’s entry, that kind of woman is one and a million. And honestly very different than today’s typical westernized woman.

There’s days where I think that I’m okay, and ready to start a new chapter. And other days where things hit me and think to myself “do I really want this?” The apostle Paul says that if you burn with passion, it’s better to marry. Well, that’s me! Even though I’m scared as ####!

Maybe you, like me are wrestling with this or something similar and you wonder if you will ever experiences a newness in life. How we begin to heal? Two avenues we must take:

Pray- talk to God, ask him to not only help you heal but also the courage to move on.

Take risks: Why? Because that is the overall method to healing from trauma, you have to face it on some level. That doesn’t mean be careless, be wise and calculated and vet a person well. But take risks and then if doesn’t work, dust it off and move on. If we stay where were at things will never change.

          

The One and A Million

I’m beginning to think I’m doomed..

Doomed? You ask?

Yes… Doomed

From what? You respond

Finding a woman, and not just any woman.

One who is genuinely happy, encouraging, warm, affectionate and at peace… And a practicing Christian. But here’s the thing though, does a woman like that even live on earth? A lot of men seem to think not. Recently, I was listening to Eliot Hulse talk about this very type of a woman and my first thought was.

“Yeah, that’s probably not even real, and if it is, it’s probably one out of million.”

But as I have sat with that thought, the question comes to mind: What if waiting for that one and million is worth it? What if, I keep seeking God, bettering myself and wait for God to bring us to each other? That honestly seems so glorious to me.

And I get it too, women are different- very different actually and some are more emotional than others. People have problems, I get it. Yet on a personal level, I’m tired of dating women, in which I’m in store for something different each day. Unsure of what I’ll get. To be fair, some men act like women too and are just as emotional and frankly unstable.

To that I say, you need to start getting your poop in a group and act like a the man that God mad you.

It’s worth the wait, I promise you. And if you don’t find what you’re looking for, can you still be strong, happy and content?           

Your Greatest Darkness

What I’m going to say in the following paragraphs, may frustrate you. It might even cause you to click off this page, but my hope with the following thoughts cause you to see the glory of God again or for the very first time. Life is hard, and filled with pain. For some of us, it’s how we learn. Through the pain of consequences and actions of others. More often than not some of the most triumphant moments come out of our greatest darkness.

You might be similar with someone by the name of Joseph in the Bible, or you might not. But God gives him a dream, where he rules over his brothers. When he wakes up he goes and actually tells that about his dream, which I personally would not have done. His brothers think he’s full of it and doesn’t like how favored he is by his own father. Joseph’s father even gives him a colored robe, that according to some scholars even symbolizes favor.

The brothers of Joseph feel very threatened by him, so much that they have sold into slavery. There’s a lot more that happens within the story with Joseph, but what hit me today as I was reading through Genesis 45:
So God sent me ahead of you to ensure for you a remnant on the earth, and to [g]keep you alive by a great deliverance. 8 Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

It was not you who sent me here, But God.
As a Christian, I believe that God is in control of every spec of my life, even to how the very universe functions. To the time I wake up in the morning. He was sovereign over the fact that I have cerebral palsy. I may not like at times, but so much good has come from it. I’ve gotten to help so many others and share how Christ has changed my life.

Joseph didn’t ask or want to be betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery. But he also didn’t know how the God of the universe would take the bad circumstances to completely change his life. This means furthermore, that God knew and foreordained- before the foundation of the world the suffering of Joseph.

I know that they make anger or even frustrate some, but I cannot help but see it as truly amazing. I believe that God- in his wisdom allowed me to have cerebral palsy, because it was the only way that my heart would surrender to his grace.

If it wasn’t for having cerebral palsy in my life, more than likely the very disposition of my heart would not be inclined to the providence of God. I wouldn’t be in awe of him and all that he has done for me. I’m not saying that we have to like all of the circumstances of our lives, but there are deeper meanings and purposes to them.

You might not seem them now, but you will see them in time. I promise you that. I am not who thinks that God is careless in his actions, but has neatly woven all events of our lives together both for our good and glory.

Your greatest darkness, whatever it is can be used for good. You’re madly loved beyond belief. You can trust him with every single second of your life.

Brief Thoughts on Romans 8:28

The other day I wrote that my hearts prayer was Romans 8:28, which says:

28 And we know that [a]God [b]causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Admittedly, in college I found this to be the most annoying passage because almost every one would quote it in times of hardship and suffering. When it comes to walking with others in human suffering, some times Christians can absolutely suck at comforting others. Rather than offering compassion and silence, we often rattle off a verse or two, in hopes that it brings hope in some ways.

Most times it doesn’t do anything. Often, when we suffer, our hearts and minds are too hard and guarded to hear anything. And it isn’t until we get further away from the suffering that we begin to see hope, truth and resolution to the problem.   

The thorn in my flesh has been depression mostly, and wondering what God is doing in the circumstances of my life. It becomes very easy to doubt his goodness and kindness toward me. It hit me the other day, that the good that the apostle Paul speaks of in this passage is in one sense- eternity.

What this means practically speaking, is that any thorn in my side, any sort of illness will all be no more when we are finally with Christ. Nothing happens in our lives without the Lords say so. This means that he can allow the greatest of suffering in our lives, if it means having a deeper relationship with him.

In another sense, the good that Paul speaks of is also character development. Are we becoming more like Christ on a daily basis? Are we walking in obedience with his word? Are you becoming more refined and stable in mind and will? The providence of God is so stunning and amazing- you can trust him. In any season of your life.     

My failure as a stoic

People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself. -Marcus Aurelius

I have been incorporating Stoic philosophy into my life over the last year, maybe a bit longer. And while I’ve seen a lot of peace of mind in my life. There’s a lot of times where I also notice where I fail as a stoic as well. I’d personally define my stoicism as the practice of not being over run or mastered by emotion. Not being held hostage by desire and want, and achieving inner calm and seeking the highest good.

That highest good for me, is walking in obedience to God, continually seeking to be more like him and serving others. And yet, because I am human, I find myself being over ran by emotion, letting my anger win out and even seeking earthly things for joy and peace. simply put though, I fail as a stoic. More often than I’d like to admit, the interesting reality is though, is that much like in my faith. When I fall short of the manner of which Christ has called me to live.

It’s not as though he requires me to go back to square one, rather he Christ calls me to run to his throne with confidence, because he is willing to forgive so readily. Repentance in a sense, is not a one-and done experience. As though one will never sin again, but when would do, we have a Heavenly father stands ready to clean us up and send us right back on our way, so.. What does all of this have to do with the above quote and failure a Stoic?

Simple, when I lose control of myself, when I left myself to be overcome by compulsion, anger and various emotion. It is then, I look for retreat and peace in exterior things. How many times do we wish we could simply get away from life’s circumstances? And while that can be a blessing at times, it much more cost effective to master our selves and not allow things to steal our peace so readily.

As you have seen in my own Stoic journey, you will fail, you will have ups and downs. But the key is to persevere, to not be so moved by your failure and keep hammering away to created the perfect edge on life’s blade.