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.

A Letter To A Fellow Warrior

The following post, is a letter that I wrote to a dear friend of mine, who also has cerebral palsy. Though much worse than myself. Like a lot of men with CP, he feels alone and wrestles with the desires. The point behind this letter, was to remind me of who he was, despite the circumstances that he found himself in:

Brother,
Thank you for your message, it truly meant a lot to me, in a few ways. In one regard, your struggles are my struggles. Not being able to leave the house much, work, feeling alone. Those are all things that my heart connects with as well. And as mentioned to you before, the battle is sometimes hourly and daily. I connect tell you how many times the thought has surfaced in my mind:
Is any woman ever going to love me for me? I know that questions must echo loudly in your mind, as it does many others with cerebral palsy and other disabilities, regardless of gender. Now, myself having only dated a few women, sometimes things just aren’t what we think their meant to be. I’m in no way trying to give you a platitude, it’s just a cold hard reality of life that we men need to learn to accept. With every interest or relationship, the question speaks out from my inner life: is this person the one that’s going to stay? And when I say stay, it’s the until death do us part way.
The great CS Lewis, was only married to his wife for a short time, before losing his beloved wife to illness. The very death of his wife, appeared that there was enough weight behind it to crush the very soul of Lewis. Think about that for a bit, he must have felt intense despair, and felt utterly alone in the universe. He very well might have had so heated conversations with God himself. I say all this, to share with you, that no matter how long a woman or even dog is with us, they were never meant to complete. Never. And shame on us humans to even believe that another person might actually make us whole.
I’ve known you awhile my friend, and I know you are a good man with an amazing heart. A man that actual has purpose, talent and immense value. The question is my brother, do you know that in yourself? Do you know what the creator of the cosmos thinks and believes of you? Do you know how madly he loves you? Do you know that he calls you friend and beloved? These realities, though they are true for all who are in Christ. They are in (in a sense) even more important to men like us, men like us who physically can’t drive. Men, who are good hearted men, with good intentions, and would like to leave a dent in the world and because of the severity of your disability and because you a bit heavier on the care of others. It makes things all the more challenging and difficult. The average person, would rage against our situations, and yes it sucks a lot. But you and I, belong to the king of the universe first and foremost. His son Jesus, made us his own before the foundation of the world. That should matter more than anything.
The other reason your message stuck out to me, was that it reaffirmed in me another of a mission in life, and that is other men like us. There’s many like you and me, who wrestle with the same thing, who cannot readily go out and be the typical man that some women want. I feel as though, God wants me to be a kind of coach, that helps men like us discover Gods mad love, to secure in themselves, learn to navigate the inner emotions of life and discover purpose/mission in life. My prayer for men like us, is that we would be sure of our standing with God, that we would live a stoic life, where we are not needlessly emotional and are ravaged by desire and that we are dependent on no one to fill our emotional, mental and spiritual cups. To be okay with being alone. Simply because you have a severity of CP, that leaves you in need of more personal care. Does not make you less of a man. Let me say that again my friend, you are not less of a man.
God has made you man, my brother, and as such you are a warrior poet. Though your body may not be able to be physically strong. Your mind and soul can be like a mighty fortress. You can learn to armor up and fight off the enemies attacks. God has given you a mind, and a mouth, you may not be able to use your hands very well, but you are smart and as such you can use the tools that you do have. Rather than being caught up in what you don’t. I must preach these truths to myself as well, daily, weekly and even hourly. I write this letter to you to awaken the warrior within you. It’s there. God breathed that inside you. Scripture says that you are more valued than the sparrow, and if they trust that God will feed them, can you? I implore you my dear friend, to throw your being at the heart of God, seek first his kingdom and all other things will be added to you. Life is not over, it’s still beautiful get into the battle my brave friend, brother and warrior.

Why Was I Made This Way? (For His Love)

As Jesus passed by, He saw a man who had been blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

I’ve been reading through the book of John once again, and this small text from chapter 9 always jumps out at me. Being born with cerebral palsy, the question always came out of my mouth” why did God make me this way. A step further, and we see that people that don’t even believe in God ask this question as well.

A soft answer to the question from various people is “God made you special” or “you’re this way for a reason”. The second answer, has more explanation to the question. In verse three, Jesus says that it was neither the man who sinned, or his parents. But the man was born blind that that works of glory of God might be displayed through him. Admittedly, in the early stages of my life, this kind of answer would be something that I’d blow off as BS.

However, when my very being understood how much God loved me, even in spite of having cerebral palsy. It was only then that the shame began to melt away from my life. I began to love all the scars on my body from surgeries, I began to love my right hand, which does not have full dexterity.

It truly breaks my heart to see others like myself, wrestle with the same self- hatred that I did for my life. And at times it still pops up in my mind, which is why it is of deep importance to fixate on the love of God daily. The scars that we hate, the hand that we wish were different, are the same scars and hands are the very same ones that God loves so deeply.

Getting to this point, is not an easy venture. It really never ends until we see Christ face to face in eternity. You will stumble, and wrestle with different thoughts and temptations daily. Some days the sun will shine brighter, and sometimes the darkness will seem as though it has sealed any light from coming in.

Once again, if we allow ourselves to go into strict training, in dwelling on Gods mad love for us. We then will understand that his love will hold us through in an all tribulation in life. If you have never thought about Gods love, and much he loves you. I encourage you to do so today, it doesn’t have to be some super religious experience. All you have to do is talk to him, be honest, tell him that you are tired of living as you have been, that you need his forgiveness and grace and make you new again from the inside out.

I promise you that he will do that tenfold for you, he will love you in ways you have never imagined.       

A soft answer to the question from various people is “God made you special” or “you’re this way for a reason”. The second answer, has more explanation to the question. In verse three, Jesus says that it was neither the man who sinned, or his parents. But the man was born blind that that works of glory of God might be displayed through him. Admittedly, in the early stages of my life, this kind of answer would be something that I’d blow off as BS.

However, when my very being understood how much God loved me, even in spite of having cerebral palsy. It was only then that the shame began to melt away from my life. I began to love all the scars on my body from surgeries, I began to love my right hand, which does not have full dexterity.

It truly breaks my heart to see others like myself, wrestle with the same self- hatred that I did for my life. And at times it still pops up in my mind, which is why it is of deep importance to fixate on the love of God daily. The scars that we hate, the hand that we wish were different, are the same scars and hands are the very same ones that God loves so deeply.

Getting to this point, is not an easy venture. It really never ends until we see Christ face to face in eternity. You will stumble, and wrestle with different thoughts and temptations daily. Some days the sun will shine brighter, and sometimes the darkness will seem as though it has sealed any light from coming in.

Once again, if we allow ourselves to go into strict training, in dwelling on Gods mad love for us. We then will understand that his love will hold us through in an all tribulation in life. If you have never thought about Gods love, and much he loves you. I encourage you to do so today, it doesn’t have to be some super religious experience. All you have to do is talk to him, be honest, tell him that you are tired of living as you have been, that you need his forgiveness and grace and make you new again from the inside out.

I promise you that he will do that tenfold for you, he will love you in ways you have never imagined.

      

Reflections On Psalm 1:4-6

Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

In Psalm 1:4-6 the psalmist David switches back to speaking about what it will be like for the wicked who do not follow God. His words ae not very PC according to our current cultural standards. Nor would they be seen as loving or all inclusive. However, I am going to argue that the words of David are more loving than many of us are willing to see or admit. In our current Christian climate, we desire for everything to be relevant and cool, a lot of what we know as the gospel or good news of God hardly offends anyone anymore. It seems like some pastors would rather be cool and be liked rather than preaching a sobering message. Now, myself included, I have spent a lot of time writing about the mad love of God, and how much God loves you and that it doesn’t matter how many times you sin, you can run to him for forgiveness. That is very real and true in my own life, and it’s something that I want to be real and true in the lives of others.

            However, even though God is slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. He is also just, which then means there will be a day, where people who have not placed their faith in God, will stand in account. But it will not be the same judgement that Christians go through, which is what I believe he is getting at in the first part of verse five. They will be like a chaff blown away by the wind, he says in verse four. Again, this can be seen by many as unloving, cruel and whatever other words you wanted to interject.

But if God is slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, and if it is his kindness that leads us to repentance. That must also mean that he gives us humans, countless chances to acknowledge him as savior and king. Countless. To me, simply waking up in the morning and seeing the beauty of nature is enough for me. Paul talks about this very concept in Romans 1, of course its much deeper of an issue than that, but that’s maybe for another time. All I’m trying to say, is that if a person at the very core of who they are, doesn’t want God (and God knows that) it only makes sense that  God would give them what is actually desired. Be assured though, God does not get off on doing this, it grieves him and it should grieve us Christians as well. It should cause us to want to share the gospel with a broken and lost world. In verse six, having the understanding that the lord watches over his sons and daughters, we should only live in that in response to the amazing and gracious gift that he has given. Which is the ability to be called beloved sons and daughters. Once again, this is not because we are amazing, but because he is. This should cause us to live sober, and embrace his amazing grace. Whilst remember who we once were without him. And also be willing to share him with others.      

Misplaced Love

Here’s the deal. No man or woman can fulfill us. I know it sucks to hear, but love delights in truth. For me, I know that this hard truth needed to be beat into my entire person all over again. Is it wrong to want a relationship? And a healthy one at? Of course not, God created us for that.

In my prior blog entry, I spoke about my frustration with the current standing of the so called “Alpha Males”. The more I listened and read to what many of them had to say, I quickly noticed that many of them were simple pick up artists. And sadly I found myself buying into this crap.

I then wanted to go out and see how many women I could pick up, by saying all the right things etc. And then it hit me… Wow that’s really, really shallow and frankly cheap. Because all the cheap thrill really leads to nothing of substance.

I don’t think there is anything wrong to long for someone be with, to long for healthy communication affection, marriage and so on. But as a follower of Christ, I/we should know that no one could possibly love us as madly as Christ does.

I also confess, that at times I have driven myself crazy trying to find a mate. Which again, isn’t wrong. But it is wrong to lose yourself in it. Without looking more at the one that loves us the most. Which is Jesus Christ.

Our love in turn becomes misplaced, we take the love from a person and put above the love of God. Which in many ways can cripple the mind and soul. Scripture tells us to seek first his kingdom, this really just means to seek God first. Let him fill us up first.

Now, I don’t believe that because we seek God first, that it then means a mate will fall into our laps or living room couches. I still think that we ought to keep our hearts, eyes and minds open. The same way that if we our hungry, we have the ability to get up and go get food.

When we seek first his kingdom, we re-order our hearts, our thinking is clearer, we are more at peace and we are more ready to love as Christ loves us. So, today if you find yourself in the same boat as me. I implore you to seek God boldly and confidently without condemnation. As him to reorder your heart. And he will. Its so worth it!

Stop Saying Your Broken

Growing up in my faith, it was very common to hear fellow believers, exclaim that they were a broken person, after all it makes sense, within the the framing of the Christian faith. Is the idea the sin a broken and corrupted everything within the human existence.

A pastor I once listened said that Christians are image bearers of God, and are like a mirror image of Christ. But sin has broken the mirror inside us that reflects christ. Hence why Christ had to come and die, to repair what was broken in us.

Again, it all makes sense. At least to me, and if you’re a follower of Christ. But I don’t believe that it was it was the healthiest of narratives to believe after becoming a Christian via the power of the holy spirit. I believe that most of us that have the name of Christ on our hearts, have forgotten that we have the holy spirit inside us. (1 Corinthians 12:13- Eph 1:13-14)

God put the spirit inside of us. Shouldn’t that do something to the psyche of a Christian? Absolutely!

God also gave us spiritual armor and a sword to fight back with, Ehp 6. Again, that should tell you something.

Once again, I think there is nothing good that comes from a fellow Christian that simply believes that they are weak and broken person, waiting for Christ to come and put them back together. Negative. Absolutely not! Outside of Gods grace and love, yes we are weak and broken people left to our own stubborn and tired ways.

But when the holy spirit invades your whole being, you have the mind of Christ, you have been made a new creation and have been enlisted in the army of God. Because we have the spirit, because we have been made a new creation and because we have been enlisted in the army of God.

Guess what, God calls us to go set other hostages free, he calls us to go on the attack against sin. That doesn’t seem like a broken person to me. Some many of us walk around with our heads down and shoulders slouched, thinking and believing that we may never have victory in our lives. In no way shape or form is that how the father wants us to live our lives. If anything living like that is like living out a lie from the pit of hell.

Your past has been forgiven. Any sit that you will ever commit. Past, present or future has been forgiven. That is every reason to hold your head up, to stand up straight with your shoulders back. It is every reason to achieve a sense of mastery over the self, in the grace of God.

So, my fellow believer. Stop saying your broken, rip that narrative up. Yes you may struggle and stumble at times, but that isn’t who you are. Remember what God has done for you, remember who he has made you to be. Hold your head up and stand up straight.

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.

Why I Quit Leaning on Anxiety Meds

If you know anything about my personal history, you would know that anxiety and depression have been present in my life, since the age of seventeen. I have cycled through various medications, seen different counselors. And hell, I’ve even spent a few days in a psych ward. For the simple fact that I hated my life and simply wanted things to be over.

To this day, I hold in high regard and esteem, anyone who goes to a doctor, knowing full well that they need help. That is the single bravest thing a human can do. It takes a lot of guts to say “I’m not well right now, and the thoughts in my mind are far too much to cope with on my own.”

Again, thats a beautiful and brave thing to admit. Within my own journey in learning to cope with anxiety and depression have almost always been a part of it. I have tried several times to slowly get off of whatever drug I was on. But the side effects were too great for me. So I’d hop back on the given medication.

To be clear, I have always wanted to be off them, because I have always hated how they made me feel. Tired, slow, and sometimes more hopeless than I was at the start. To be blunt, most of the counselors I saw sucked, they were filled with pat answers and didn’t grasp the pain that was inside me.

The more depressed and anxiety ridden I felt, the healthier I ate and focused more on trying to fight back against the anxiety and depression on the Jiujitsu mats or with the weights. Eating cleaning, saying no to a lot of carbs and sugar and saying yes to more protein and water worked. Making my workouts more challenging and taxing worked.

Yet, this lingering depression and random panic attacks through out the week would hit me still. I didn’t know what to do, I was tired of feeling this way, and I wanted it to stop. Fast forward to seeing my girlfriend for to weeks (she lives in NY) I was so happy to see her, that thinking about taking my medication was the furthest thing from my mind.

I even told her a few days into my trip “Babe, I haven’t taken my anxiety meds in a few days.” And you know what, I felt fairly good. Apart from the slumps that I would have mid day, when the depression would come slamming into reality again. I would have moments, where I would sit on my girlfriends bed and cry. Being the amazing woman that she is, she held me and waited until I was done crying. She also would gently remind me that everything would be okay, because God loved me and she loved me too.

It was in these moments, when I realized that, I’d rather feel the weight of my depression and anxiety. Knowing that I was mentally stronger than I gave myself credit for. I’d rather face the pain and darkness head on, knowing with a hundred percent fact that this darkness couldn’t beat me.

I did as David Goggins talks about in his book “Can’t Hurt Me” and started to harden my mind, not in the sense of being angry or bitter. I started hardening my mind to be strong in battle, I would speak to the negative thoughts in my mind.

“Is that the best you got!?”

“Your wasting your time, because you have no authority or power over me”

I would ask myself, “do you know who you are? You are warrior, a child of God and one bad mother F’er.”

The more I began to allow, embrace and feel the mental and emotional pain, the more I allowed myself to accept it, and started using it as more of driving force, to push forward. I often would use anxiety meds to cope with sadness, despair, shame and my perceived failures in life.

At this moment in my life, I have a deeper understanding that, allowing the darkness to swallow me up is never the answer. Wanting to not wake up anymore is not the answer. Being able to go to the root of your pain is the answer.

Once again, if you are in counseling and on medication, I’m not telling you to get off them cold turkey as I did. And as of now in my life I feel fine. But I am telling you, that you are loved, by God and people in your life. I am telling you that you are warrior and a bad mother f’er and I am telling you that the darkness has no authority over your life.