My worst nightmare. What it taught me.

Life is pain, hardship, agony, frustration and many other words that we all could insert into the equation. All of the major world religions agree that life is suffering. Yes, it may seem very bleak. But I can assure you, it isn’t. Life is all of those things for me too. I was born at an extremely low birth weight, had brain damage to the center ventricle of my brain and thus was born with a condition called Cerebral Palsy (CP). To add to all of that, I have endured a handful of surgeries, all of which have taken me a year or more to heal and recover from. Oh, and add mental health issues to the list. I’m sure most would shake their heads and think Wow, I don’t know how you do it!
That’s the thing though, apart from divine intervention, I don’t know how I do it either! Being completely honest, there are days where I want to throw in the towel of my life and not continue the fight any longer. I’ve been to the point in my life, where I in fact have tried to take my own life. But what stops me from doing it? Fear of the hereafter. No, I am not here to debate religion or anything of the sort. The other night though, I had the worst night mare that I’ve ever had in my 34 years of life. I dreamt that I had written an email of all things, to my family, saying that I loved them all very much. But I just couldn’t do life anymore. The nightmare then switched to me being alive in a black hole, doing everything I could to get out knowing that I had made the wrong choice.
I jolted out of my sleep, which woke my girlfriend from her sleep. She instantly put her arms around me and I began to sob violently. I knew that in that moment, that suicide is never the answer. I wept bitterly, because of the deep revelation that if I had gone through with it. I would never know what the rest of my life held for me. I clinched my girlfriend tighter and told her how much I loved her, and that no matter how hard life got, that life isn’t something that we should quit at. I strongly believe that it is my mission, to speak hope to you, the reader.
I want you, to maybe for the first time in your life, tap into the dreams that exist inside you. Whatever that may be. It can be a simple as wanting to be a healthier and fitter person. Work towards it, drink more water, say no to sugar and processed foods. It could be starting the company you always wanted to start, but didn’t because you listened more to the fear and doubt that pounds inside your soul. It could even be the desire to be a better person, what are the steps that you are going to take in order to do that? While our hearts still beat, we still have time to sharpen the ax. But it takes time, dedication and discipline. Life is but a vapor, so at the risk of sounding utterly cliché. I implore you to not hide from the pain that you may have inside you, feel it. Embrace it and let it out. Deal with it, give it a voice, because if you don’t, things are going to get way worse. Suffering in silence is something that no one should have to do. Once you let all the pain out, allow the dreams and desires that you have held down to come to the surface and live from that. Live with hope and purpose. Learn to love more deeply, and let go of the things that no longer serve you. Let go of anger, regret, let go of self- hatred, let go of the endless cycle of doubt that keeps you from moving forward to the person that you see yourself becoming. Rather, allow compassion, self-love and forgiveness to enter your life. Allow a new journey to unfold in your life, discover things about yourself you never knew. Find strength and wisdom you never knew you had, allow empathy and understanding to take place in your life, allow yourself, the opportunity to armor up against the lies your mind tells you every day. And allow yourself the time to develop good boundaries with people who might have your best interest in mind.
No, none of this easy, in fact much of this is very difficult, but life is such a beautiful blessing. One that is to short not to pour out all we are every single day. Speak your pain into reality, heal and recover, but then go fourth forging a new fire and zeal for your life. You owe it to yourself and others to do so!

Put Your House In Order. While You Still Can.

I was reading my Bible this morning, and this particular phrase in 2 kings 20:1

This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”

I do not intend to dig a lot in the context of this passage, but rather center the focus of this around what verse one means for us today. My room has a lot of clutter in it, I know where everything is at, but it has a lot of clutter.

Now, on one hand there is a method to how my room is, its easier for me to reach certain things and doesn’t require me to stand and reach for high objects. I know this annoys my family, but for me it works. It’s not because I intend to live like a slob. My clothes are not neatly folded because folding can be tough for me.

My parents come sometimes and fold things as they see it should be, it stays neat for awhile but then as time goes by, things return to the way they were before. People within the design word, claim that your outside world reflects your inside world.

So, if I have a lot of clutter in my room, I probably have a lot of clutter on the inside too. It makes sense and I would agree that it is true. I do have a lot of clutter on my inside life. I’ve been trying to get it in order for a long time now, I’m not where I want to be but I am damn sure much better than what I was.

Getting your room in order is not only physical, but it is mentally, emotionally and spiritually too. I would submit that the latter three are of greater significants. All of us are headed to our graves, and to a degree we can choose how we get there.

Maybe for someone its getting your mental health in order, so that the heaviness of depression and anxiety don’t completely drain you of all joy and appreciation of life. Perhaps its getting your money in order, where you actually plan for a future and not burn your money on meaningless pleasure. Maybe it’s making peace with your past and people that you have wronged or wronged you.

If you and I don’t do this, what is the consequence? We die in the state we have chosen to live in and we will not recover. We will die holding onto that shame, regret, bitterness and anger. We will die, never know what we could have been.

I think hell is a real reality, not some metaphorical reality. And I believe that God reaches out to us every day, telling us that he is the way out from the suffering in our lives. That’s why he sent his son Jesus on a rescue mission, for us. He can make us new, fill us with peace and joy and give us a completely new road map to destiny.

The sad part is, some choose to stay in the pain and suffering because that’s all they know. It’s become their norm of comfort. Shedding the old skin and experience new life can be painful too. In one of the Narnia movies, a young boy turned into a dragon, who was then a mean and grumpy soul.

In order for the boy to be transformed from being a dragon, Aslan had to remove the dragon flesh from his body. Which was extremely painful. Which is true for us as well, it hurts an extreme amount. But when our own dragon skin is removed, it is as though we are all new people.

I’m still working on getting myself in order, you can too. We can still recover while there’s still time.

While You Wait (Thoughts on Relationship)

Relationships are complicated, tricky, frustrating and even heart breaking. And yet at the core of the human experience, we are meant for them. Though not every relationship is romantic, there is deep friendship and  the surface level friendships with people you see once in a while. I was never good at the romantic side of relationships, always saying the wrong things, doing the wrong things and over all going after all the wrong people.

It’s tough to sometimes look back on your history, and think wow, I have quite the string of failed relationships. Many of us have a lot of relational baggage if you will. I didn’t believe that I would every find anyone who would understand me or love me. Of course, my faith offers me great hope, comfort and peace. But still I wanted there to be a person, a human being in my life.

Flesh of my flesh

Bone of my bone.

I’m sure that people reading this can relate on some level or another, there was a season of my life where, my frustration grew at God. Wondering When he would provide some sort of answer to this longing inside me. I didn’t think it was “fair” that everyone else around me was happy and I wasn’t.    

I grew very annoyed with people who kept informing me, that things would happen when I least expected it. But, they were right! There came a point in the journey, where I simply decided to focus on bettering myself and helping others. As time went on, however, as I focused more on myself, pursuing my passions and helping others. I met my girlfriend. We are in a long distance relationship and met through a cerebral palsy group , started talking as friends and the rest is pretty much history.

            The point that I want to get across, is that there is hope. If you like me, long to find a significant other. Give it time, get to know yourself, become the person that you would like to date. Be comfortable in your own skin, love yourself. You and the relationship you enter will be better because of it. I love my girlfriend, so very much. She loves me in all the ways that my heart has always desired. We better each other in a lot of ways, but the one truth that I want to get across is that your significant other is not your savior.

The person you date and or marry, will let you down, frustrate you and maybe even break your heart. Which is why I believe that forgiveness is some vital in any relational context. It is extremely important to love how you want to be loved and forgive as you also want to be forgiven.

Once again, relationships are vital and the very DNA of human existence. But they are not the path the peace we all seek. To assume the reality that one person is going to take all of your sorrows and hardships away, is a sad reality and can lead you down some very destructives paths. As much as it pissed me off to hear, when I was single. Enjoy your singleness while you have, get to know yourself, your likes and dislikes. Really think about the person you want to be with, and the person you want to become. This is how you will begin to find fulfillment in yourself, and how you can only begin to love your significant other as well.         

Christians-Gods Temple- Redeeming Health

When I was attending my first bible college, we were discussing the every quoted verse in 1 Corinthians 6:19. Which reads “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;” Interestingly enough, there are all kinds of interpretations to this verse, anything from drugs, tattoos, suicide, sex and even health. Most of us, in our chapel discussion agreed that in had to do with our health and honoring God with our lives.

I spoke up about how I thought, that I strongly believe that as Christians we ought to be doing our best to take care of our bodies. In all all aspects: mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Not always in that order.

I’ll never forget it, when a rather loud black woman piped up and said “I don’t need to take care of my health, I’m dying anyway and in Heaven I’m gonna get a new body.” My first thought in that moment and even now is, that can’t be right or true. Yes, I do affirm that on the other side of life, Christians will have glorified bodies that are free from sin and decay.

But to assume that we can just let ourselves go, and let illness and death simply take us over. Is frankly sinful and a smack in the face to God, because he blessed us with life. It is then our response to honor him back. In my years of Christ, I have seen so many people walk through the church doors. Including pastors.

It’s sad that we have readily accepted this reality. I don’t think it is enough as believers, to simply ready ourselves for death. No, we still have much purpose and mission in this life. And as such our bodies need to be ready for the tasks at hand. This could mean, preparing your body and mind, for a time of raising children up. Working a job that requires heaving lifting etc.

Even if you have a desk job, guess what? you still need to honor God with your body. This could be a simple, as saying no to fast food and choosing healthier options. It could very well mean preparing food the night before. The point is, Christians need to think more broadly about how we honor God with the temples we inhabit.

It’s both the inside and the out.

Its my personal belief that Jesus Christ himself, was a fairly in shape person. After all, he walked almost everywhere and worked with his body. Who are we to be any different. We truly are without excuse.

The Key To Paradise

I believe that one of the “hard” things of the Christian faith, is that if we are not careful things can become lost in translation. We can read the same things over and over in our bibles, without having what we read move us or change us. I’m no different, I struggle to pray as I should, and though my bible reading is disciplined. It can seem very robotic, as though I only do things out of “religious duty”

We all know the story when Christ is on the cross, with two people on each side of him. If you don’t know of it, I encourage you to read Luke 23:26-44. Again, I have read this passage quite a bit over the span of my faith journey, and it sadly doesn’t move me sometimes or nothing jumps out at me. The story kept coming to memory, so I opened my bible with the thought in my mind

“Okay Lord, what are you saying to me?”

As I was reading, it came to my attention that there were two different types of hearts: On one hand, there is the heart of stone, the first criminal almost has a mocking tone of voice and posture of heart. “Your Jesus right? So why not get yourself off this piece of wood and save us!?” (My translation). If I’m not careful, this can be me too, I can have a horrible attitude about my life and faith as well. In which case, I have to bring myself in Gods presence, seek forgiveness for my hard heart and allow him to soften my heart over again.

I love the words of Ezekiel 36:26:

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone[a] and give you a heart of flesh.

In my observation, this is what happens to the second man hanging beside Jesus, something happens inside of his own heart to invoke a different response. He says “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same condemnation ? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom .” And he (Jesus) said to him “Truly, I say to you. today you will be with me in paradise.”

Again, I’ve read this before, this really isn’t anything new to me per say, but what I noticed, is that there is so much going on between the second man and Jesus. I don’t know much at all about this mans life, his past or anything. But I think it’s safe to assume, that he knew deep down he made a mess of his life, wasn’t proud of himself at all and knew that there wasn’t much at all that he could do to merit the grace of God.

I believe that that is the best place a person can be, because when we are to proud, full of pride then there really is no way we can see the grace of God, can we? No we can’t. And our hearts cannot ever really soften, unless the spirit of God breaks through with a holy sledge hammer.

The way Christ responds to this man, completely blows my mind, Jesus doesn’t lead this man in a prayer, tells him to repent or anything of the sort. The man only cries out from his heart, which is in a way a form of repentance and asking for forgiveness. And Christ accepts him willfully. The man knows, that if he is to enter paradise with Christ, it has everything to do with the goodness of Christ and zero to do with himself.

This, my friends, should set us free! Why? Because it’s no longer about us, we know longer have to slave and white knuckle our way into Christs love. We can rest in the grace and mercy of Christ, and breath with great joy because it’s all about the finished work of Christ for us.

Trust me, if you feel like God is done with you, or wants nothing to do with you, you’re mistaken. He just wants you. All of you. While you are still alive, there is still time to know the grace and goodness of God. All you have to do is cry out to him.

The Beauty and Invitation of Grace

Lots of people are addicted to many things, me, however. I am addicted to the grace of God. I can’t get enough of it, I need it almost every moment of every day. Grace is the one sustaining reality in my life that keeps everything else going. I talk about grace so much, because it has utterly changed my life.

Many churches have hot button topics that they love to preach about, and for me grace is that truth. I was am the prodigal sons, before I gave in to the affectionate calling of the Lord drawing my heart, I was the other younger son that was arrogant, and felt like God owed him everything (if there was a God) and now, being a redeemed Christ follower, I am the eldest son that runs away and comes back home.

Yet, the father still runs to be every single time. No, grace is not an invitation to live a careless life, grace is the gift and ability to walk closely with Christ each and everyday. And with joy. But the reality is that, we do wander off the path. Take for example, the timeless hymn “Come Thou Fount”

“Prone to wander Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love”

We sing this all the time, but I don’t believe that we understand what we are singing. God is not stupid, he isn’t. He knows that you and I are gonna screw up and screw up a lot. He knows we are gonna lose our tempers, say things we don’t mean, totally blow it and act counter to how we Christians should act.

But you know what? He’s not shocked. He knows. And dare I believe that he is shaking his head at us, rather he picks us up, brushes us off and reminds us who we are in him. And sets us on the narrow road. Any anger that we may believe that God has toward us, was poured out on the cross. If you are in Christ, you are a new creation. The old has been done away with and the new has come.

The sins you cannot forget, are the sins that God has forgotten.

I believe that because God is slow to anger, his hearts cry is for people to finally notice how much they need his grace. On one hand, proud people who already think they are amazing. Have no need for the beautiful gift of grace. While on the other hand, those that know they have blown it time and time again. The grace of God is the most precious of gifts.

It’s a gift, you can do nothing to deserve it, let alone un-deserve it. But you can embrace it with all its joy and beauty.

Mental Illness and Church Leadership- Responding to Dale Partridge

Recently, a pastor by the name of Jarrid Wilson committed suicide. Admittedly I knew of his name until I saw a post on social media that spoke of this tragic event. As a phycology major, a lover of the mind and as one of has a soft spot in his heart for people who suffer with the beast of depression. My heart ached. It ached even more, when I saw a blog from the Christian post that had as a headline:

People struggling With Mental Illness Shouldn’t Be In Church Leadership https://www.christianpost.com/news/people-struggling-with-mental-illness-shouldnt-be-in-church-leadership-jarrid-wilsons-friend-says.html?fbclid=IwAR3cW6bcPkMpaFWqxE1q6AypIFoYXPI2SUkROzOxx1_thJgcORpCuD0o_po

Now to be fair, I can see the authors intent, pastors are very often over worked, hardly ever get any time off and tend to be everyone’s go to when they have a problem. However, it is extremely troubling to me to say  that it is “reckless” and “unbiblical” for churches to put someone in a position of leadership, if they are having struggles with mental illness or doubt.

Okay, I can kind of see the doubt part. But to say that people who struggle with mental illness shouldn’t be in church leadership, is in its self a very stupid and ignorant thing to say. That would eliminate a huge majority of the Christian community serving the body of Christ.

            Moreover the passages used to support the authors position are 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, The author focuses on the concept of being “sober minded” as its states in 1 Timothy 3, along with self- controlled. There in a huge danger, I believe in applying these passages to people who suffer with mental illness. Because we first have to have a clear understanding of what “sober minded” actually is in this context. If we are talking about someone that is still on the recovery road due to recovery, okay I can deal with that. If we are talking about someone who isn’t very rooted in their faith, and is easily influenced by others, I can see that too.

Sober minded and dealing with a chemical imbalance is something utterly different, yes, depression can sometimes can get very dark, and we can lose our way. But to say that a person is not sober minded is a grave insult. I think that a person can depressed, and be sober minded in that they cling to Christ like a weighted blanket rests on the body. Those of us who suffer, might need a gentle reminder of who we are in Christ. But to suggest that it is automatically removes us from church leadership is dangerous and unrealistic. Think about the amount of people that have anxiety, or having a rough day and their thoughts are not the best. OOPS! I guess there goes their ability to serve Gods people!

            …. And for the record, have we ever thought about how Jesus himself might respond to this? Have we even considered all the problems his own disciples had? Let me tell you, they were many. I don’t ever recall Jesus saying “Hey Peter, you got too many problems, you can’t be my disciple anymore!” Nor, did he ever say to Thomas “Gee Thomas, I can’t accept you for your doubts, good bye!”

So what gives some Christians today, the right to act differently? Jesus didn’t give his disciples the boot right away, why should we? Now, I firmly believe that there is reason, as to why a fellow believer wouldn’t be inclined to a position of leadership within the church. And I don’t think that mental illness is one of them. We very well need  to institute better care for our pastors, but simply disqualifying then is utter nonsense. If you’re a Christian and struggle with mental illness in any form. It’s okay to talk about it, you are not weak or less then because your battle is different than the next person. Having this struggle does not in any way negate how the Father see’s you in his son Jesus.          

The More Thoughtful Christian (Listen more- talk less)

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. -James 1:9, NET Bible Translation

I will never forget the day, the grace of God crashed into my life, turning my life upside down for the better. At that moment, everything was about was different. Christ had won me over with his affectionate calling. No, I don’t believe that I chose him, but rather he melted my heart to the point where I could only joyfully give him all that I was. There was a fire inside me, a smile glued to myself. There was a high in my soul that was much better than any drug.
I was a zealot, who wanted everyone to know about his grace. Guess what, I still do. But to be honest, a lot has changed in my heart (or so I believe). When I attended my first Bible college, we were given assignments of going out on the town and tell people about Jesus. At the time, I was on a huge Jesus high, that I just wanted to tell people about how God changed me. Which isn’t wrong, but I wish that I knew how to control my zeal enough, to actually take the time to listen to people. Truly listen to them, get to know them as a fellow image bearer. It almost makes me think to think that, we as Christians shove Jesus in people’s faces, as though they are some sort of check mark on our spiritual to do lost.
I am also aware that, not every interaction is going to be a full blown conversation. But I strongly believe we can do more than simply say “I’ll pray for you” which we almost never do. We as believers could be a lot more thoughtful in our responses to people, rather than pulling out a platitude that we heard in church. In other words, we followers of Christ could use a dose or two of compassion and understanding. Have we not read how Jesus interacted with people? Consider the woman at the well (John 4:5-42), he (Jesus) actually engages with this woman, he listens to her. He didn’t shy away from telling her the truth about herself or how she was living, but he did far more than give her a sermon on purity. Or shame her for how she had been living. I’m sure she already felt quite guilty and shame filled already. Yet in a calm, grace filled way, he tells her that he is the thirst quencher that her soul has always longed for that no man could ever satisfy. O that we Christians, would learn to close our mouths, and learn to pray and ponder our responses to this dying world. I think so many of us want to get mad at other people, who aren’t like us. When we really are better served seeking to understand where people are at first. Remember, we are the salt and light of the world my friends. We have the spirits power in us, which means we can go into the world and really bring the fight to the darkness.
Be slower in your responses, even to the people in your life that are dealing with their own hardship. Don’t simply throw your favorite bible verse at them, because you think that we actually fix their pain, because it doesn’t. There is a huge difference between putting a quick Band-Aid over a wound and actually walking with someone toward the way the truth and the life. We go to church on Sundays, and we all get pumped up on team Jesus. But then we realize that life is a real thing, and it’ll slap us right in the face again. I think that rather than simply being pumped for Jesus, we ought to learn how to become more grounded in our faith, like that of a tree. So that when life does beat us up, and it will. We will be able to endure the chaos of everyday life better, as opposed to being crushed by a single blow. When we are more grounded in our faith and more thoughtful in our responses, slower to speak and quicker to pray. We will be better for the world around us.

The Spiritual Side of Fasting

Fasting is the new thing in the health and fitness. People are either doing intermittent fasting , prolonged fasting or even dry fasting. Which means no water at all. As I mentioned in a previous entry, intermittent fasting is something that I have been practicing for several months now.

And to be honest with you, I love it! I typically eat between 7 AM and stop somewhere before 4PM. And don’t eat until the next morning. Plenty of water is consumed in between, on average I’m pulling anywhere between 16-20 hours. The longest I have fasted is a full 24.

The health benefits of I.F. for me, have been improved mood, gut health, better sleep, much less joint pain, more energy and so on. And again, I love this practice, but what some people don’t realize, is that the practice of fasting is nothing new. Ancient religions have been practicing fasting for thousands of years. Though in many religions, fasting is typically dry.

One of the biggest components when it comes to fasting, particularly in the Christian tradition. Is to bring us back to the understanding that we are not sufficient in and of ourselves. But that God is all sufficient for his people. What happens for in my own fasting and spiritual practice, is that everything comes to the surface for me. Meaning that all the areas that I know I need to improve, things I need to deal with and or repent of come floating up.

It’s as though, fasting is the water that brings things to surface, when we humans try to drowned them out. Fasting lets me know that I am not as in control as I allow myself to believe. It allows me the understanding, that I haven’t arrived and have a long way to go. It beckons to utter the words, “Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner”.

I highly encourage a lot of people to fast, especially for the reasons mentioned above. Start slow and work your way into longer windows of fasting. The health benefits are great, but know that there’re deeper, more satisfying reasons to fast if you’re willing to give it a shot.

I really Want To Go Strict Carnivore!

I really love steak! I really. Really. Love steak. Always have-always will love steak. Not simply because it tastes amazing, but because of how it makes my body feel. As a kid, I hated eating my greens. My parents would all but force me, the meat on my plate would often go first. That or the carbs on my plate.

Typically I eat half a pound a steak every morning, and if I’m hungry I’ll have a nice piece of fish. That’s my food window for the day, then my intermittent fasting kicks in with plenty of water and tpically don’t eat until the next morning.

So what’s stopping me?

Well, I still live at home and live in a family where, sometimes I have to eat what’s in front of me. Which is typically a lot of asian food with a lot of carbs. Typically when I eat whats in front of me, I often feel sluggish, tired and my joint pain spikes up immensely.

Yet, when I eat a lot of steak and eggs, fish and cut our carbs and sugar. My body feels amazing and I have less depression, more energy and my joint pain is much less. I have read countless articles and listened to many stories of how the carnivore based approach has changed peoples lives.

I understand the carnivore approach is still so taboo, but I truly believe that there is more to the carnivore approach. If it helps put auto immune disorders, depression and so much more into remission, I strongly believe that we ought to pay more attention to this. I’m not saying you can’t eat your carbs or have your greens.

I’m only stating that as a society, we have been lied to for so long about red meat. And what we actually need to thrive as human beings. I would like to try it for 30 days straight, in the name of seeing what this does for my body.