On Fire When He Speaks

Don’t give up. Don’t stop believing. Don’t ever count something or somebody out, just because God’s logic doesn’t line up with yours.

I say this because I was guilty. I was in a lonely, desperate rut no more than a few months back and I was about ready to give up on God. Many people around me were moving up and about in life. Church ministry became a huge burden and I felt like a confused hypocrite. Worst of all, I was lonely. I had very few friends to turn to and share about all this stuff.

Then crazy things started happening. A random acquaintance had a vision about me–the type you read about in the Bible that the apostles experienced. It was like a wake-up call from God. Then our church youth retreat happened, and I witnessed one of my youth actually come to accept Jesus as her Lord and Savior. It was a reminder that God still changes lives, even when you have stopped believing.

At this point, I’m thinking, life is still hard but God–You know so much better than me. He must be onto something here so I started praying that God would break me and humble me and give me His heart. It’s a dangerous prayer, I know. But it’s one I knew He would answer. Before I knew it, God had broken and afflicted me with deep, personal trials. As if I were the refiner’s gold and He the blacksmith, all my bad habits and wayward thoughts and insecurities were brought to the surface of the crucible. He said He needed to skim away those impurities in order to renew my spirit and use me.

Somewhere in this refining process God started to pour out abundantly into my life. One thing was community. God divinely brought about a close-knit group of brothers and sisters with whom I am not only able to hang out but share deep stuff, inception-like. The other was ministry. God had reinvigorated my passion for the youth and this past weekend, I even witnessed some of them performing their first random selfless act of kindness: they spent their own money to feed a homeless lady on the streets!

All to say that these gifts and trials and lessons from God came as a reminder to me of one thing: LOVE. God loves us all more than we could ever imagine. I was in a lonely, desperate rut. I didn’t deserve any of this. I didn’t even ask for it, really.

But it doesn’t take long before you discover that in this spiritual union, God is the bridegroom and you are the bride. He pursues us with a passionate and furious love. He chases after us, He woos us with His grandness and beauty. He brings us out of our pits of darkness. And out of His unfathomable love, He enables us to love Him back.

It’s true what they say. God works in mysterious ways. I stopped trying to reason and figure it all out, it’s just a silly game I won’t ever win. All I know is that when I enter those pits in life, I must never give up, never stop believing, and never count Him out.

*****

Please do yourself a favor and watch a documentary called Furious Love. It will light your world on fire.

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Confessions of a Facebook Addict

One is a lonely number. In fact, it is the loneliest number. Adam knew this when he took account of all the animals in the garden. John Donne knew this when he once declared “No man is an island entire of itself.” Even the very idea of the Christian God does not exist apart from community–the Holy Trinity is quite the awesome company. No, you cannot get lonelier than one.

I was submerged into this sort of thinking when I found myself, in the middle of the night, clicking on random Facebook pictures of people whom I don’t really even know but consider “friends.” I was pining over their glamorous married lives and their newborns who look as bald as their fathers and their extravagant dinner entrees and their spectacular trips around the world and Pluto and what have you. All of which worked to remind me, of course, about how unspectacular and dull my life has become–there was no Like button for my life.

What I really wanted, what my soul truly craved, was community. Connection. The opportunity to sit before a real life flesh-and-bones human being and be able to share a drink and talk about God, relationships, Kobe or the next Tarantino film. I think four years of college trick you into thinking that community is automatic. That you don’t have to work for it, that you are entitled to it and it just comes. So what’s as close to being automatic as turning on your laptop and clicking on things all from the comfort of your seat? I wanted community, but what my mind had mistaken–and really had settled for–was instead a faux community that brings people together to spy and stalk each other from our isolated chambers of comfort.

I had a talk about this with David at a bar in downtown Los Angeles. I told him how tricky this whole social media thing is, how one might try to fulfill that desire for community but end up feeding more into it after hours of browsing. “It’s like people can have 25 days of the month that were totally horrible, and perhaps five days that were good. And yet all you see are those five days because that’s what these people post up. And they make you think, ‘Man why isn’t my life that good?’ It creates this sense of falseness.”

I agreed, though I am no better. I’ve been in that. In fact, I still struggle with it. Living in the age of digitalization and instant-everything, I feel like there is a constant need to edit out the good parts of my life and put it out on blast, to build this mirage that my life is like a party at Bel Air everyday. So that you can peep my carefully fabricated life and feel bad about yours and have you try to make amends by doing the exact same thing.

But truth is many of us are probably as miserable as you.

David said he doesn’t bother with social media as much anymore. And I can relate. But still, as much as I like to bash on it, I feel this medium could be used for great purposes. To organize real life events. To find lost or old friends. To connect people so that they can take it a step further and connect in real life.

Not replace real life interactions.

I don’t want to live my life through pictures on Facebook. I don’t want cyber-reality. I want substance. It’s always been the same order for food and conversation and people–give me real meat. That’s what I’m praying for.

New Project: Blank Slate Era

As some of you may know, a couple friends and I just launched a new project this past weekend. It’s called Blank Slate Era, a website devoted to all things creative and artistic–film, design, music, writing, photography. The hope is to foster a community that would be able to inspire and help each other create wonderful works of art to share with the world around us. Please check it out and “like” us on Facebook!

As the main guy in charge of the “words” section, I have written my first post about the importance of language (repackaged below). Thanks again for your readership and support!

-MY

*****

Sticks & Stones

We know the idiom. We know how the line is finished. It’s something we grew up with as children, a way to deflect all the insults hurled at us for which we had no clever comeback. Our bones, our body, can feel the pain from objects. Words, however–what are they?

It all seemed so silly, these letters on a page. It didn’t take long, however, to realize that these letters were in fact a mighty weapon. That the organic combination of words arranged by letters in purposeful sequences could be enough to raise up Rome or raze her. Mix them in a bowl and you have soup. But string them together, piece by piece, with passion and direction, and you have the Magna Carta, Hamlet, The Great Gatsby.

When did you first discover the power of words? Was it when you felt the impact of “I love you” leveling you at the knees, or when you heard “I wish you were never born” ripping you apart? Whatever the case, it was in that moment that you were stripped of your plastic armor. Words exposed us, and we were naked–revealed for who we are in ways no other weapon could unmask. If it was pain, there was no morphine strong enough; but if it was joy, love, hope–there was no planet that was out of reach.

This is the power of words. This is the world we invite you to enter. A place in which you can create and discover and master the pen you’ve been given to enable beauty in all places and bring peace where there is pain.

Let it go and see where it takes you.