Monday, December 21, 2015

Them (Single draft attempt)

Another year goes by, and I ain't feelin' any older,
The world outside, is just getting colder...
I'm more afraid now – more than I have ever been,
Lord, be with me, Lord, be with me...

As I look back on the January days of my life I have lived, I see many flaws in my character. My admission here serves as a disclaimer for my lack of experience on this subject – I speak as someone unaccustomed to loss, unfamiliar with conflict, with full trust remaining in most everyone that I have met and without fear of any of the above. In short, I am inexperienced with life – nearly everyone older than I has met with these things above, and has in my opinion allowed these things to change them for the worse. However, my experience usually shows that age breeds wisdom, and thus I must ask forgiveness of my elders here if my words seem harsh and unyielding. If you consider me incorrect, then please consider it merely the wide-eyed optimism or cynicism that comes with youth.

Today I speak of division. It seems bred into me from a young age, whenever I go anywhere, to another community – the usage of the word irks me, but I plod on – whenever I see a stranger, whenever I judge another person – there's that word again – whenever I watch the news about another nation's qualms – I cannot help but use this word! - I see, the word, another.

Another nation, another people group, another ethnicity, another political party, another family, another family member... them. This word grates at me, I wish I could only allow it out for its simple and un-connotated meaning, to denote a second item, being spoken about in third person, much like one would relate one box to a pile of boxes - “oh, put that package along with the others. We'll sort them later.” This word, and its meaning, have been used to much wider cultural meanings, to speak about that person, or that child, or that people group. The mere mention of that, or them nowadays subconsiously triggers whatever images of division to pop into my head – a grey plane separating into equal parts black and white, a group of people shunning another...

The inspiration for this piece directly was a Facebook image I saw that boasted, “Homeless servicemen should come before any refugee”. I responded to the tone of, “Why should someone who chose war be selected above one whom war was put upon them? The serviceman has a home to return to, the refugee has left theirs burning to dust.” I was told that the servicemen are our friends, our family, our people, and thus should take precedence over... them. I was told, and was compelled by, the other Middle Eastern countries haven't taken in the people that undoubtedly would have more in common with these refugees than Americans would, and would integrate them better. But still... them. Them sucks. Them is an ugly word.

I propose the image: on the global scale, there is a veteran and a refugee sitting on our lawn, starving to death. Which do you take in?

The Parable of the Good Samaritan in scriptures would be useful as a starting point for my answer. For those who do not know it, Jesus is asked “who is our neighbor?” and responds thus: A man walking along the road is set upon by bandits, beaten within an inch of death, stripped and left for dead. A priest and a pharisee separately walk by, walking to the other side of the road to avoid the unclean man. A Samaritan walks up and instead helps the man onto his pack animal and takes the man to an inn, where he pays a handsome amount for the innkeeper to watch after the man and nurse him to health. Jesus says then, “Which of these is your neighbor?” (or something to that tune, it's midnight, I’m not going to bother checking the exact wording on the seventh most famous story in the Bible)

Now, I would imagine that in this hypothetical world Christ conjured, the Samaritan in question was regarded strangely by his fellows. “Why would you help them?” they would ask. For, Israelites and Samaritans were not friends at the time. The Israelites, if memory serves me right, considered the Samaritans to be unwashed barbarians, and Samaritans understandably did not enjoy the comparison. The priest and pharisee, they can be forgiven, can they not? For, to have helped the dying man would mean days or ritual cleansing of the unclean blood from their contact with the man.

Of course, today we regard the Samaritan with praise, and I would say that is what Christ is hoping for. The Samaritan broke down the them. He put them on his pack animal, took them to the inn, cleaned them with his own hands, and paid for them to be looked after handsomely. The parallel I draw is that this them is the same them as the refugee is today. Israel had a problem with poverty, with war, with sickness, just as we do today. Samaria probably did as well. But the Samaritan saw a present need (there's a man bleeding out here) above and beyond the constant need (there are members of my community that need assistance) and fulfilled it. This was Christ's answer to, “Who is my neighbor?”

Back to the refugee. A man in the Middle East can no longer be considered too far removed from our own culture. You read this on a monitor made in Taiwan, with a plastic or metal frame made in China, likely sitting on a furniture item (or within sight of a furniture item) made in Poland or France, driving a car from a manufacturer based in Japan, which takes oil from the UAE and SA, thinking about your British friend and her Turkish husband. We are all connected.

So what do we do? We cannot say, “I would take the serviceman in and leave the refugee to die,” neither can you allow the refugee in and leave the serviceman to die. Certainly there must be an error in this assumption, for in this hypothetical we wish nobody to die. Perhaps we could take them both in? One would have the guest bedroom, the other can take the couch. But which would take which? Would they take turns? Such lack of stability would be harsh on them (consider that in this global hypothetical, the bedroom is in Texas and the couch is in Alabama. Quite a bit of movement!), and I wouldn't ask that of them. Perhaps the homeowner could take the couch, but then the uprooting of the home would be severely taxing on the homeowner, and this person would be less able to care for the serviceman and refugee.

This post gives no answer to the above hypothetical, it is only an exercise in thought. On to my suggestion: expand your us. If you have your circle of family, expand it. Find extra room for more people in your heart. We are all kept to a certain level of us. Come consider us to be the nuclear family, others the extended. Us can mean to you, your friend circle, your local municipality, your state, your culture. I try to consider every person I meet one of us. It is difficult, and I fail – I see a person who looks Asian, or a person who looks Middle Eastern, and I initially jump to the thought they are different. It is only when the conscious enters that I see we carry the same skeleton, the same heartbeat, the same human foibles, and soften again. It is a subtle racism that I identify and struggle with. In years to come I hope I have no such inconsistencies with my handling of strangers.

In short, the more people your consider inside of your us circle, the more compassion you have for the whole of humanity. The whole of humanity needs more us. Consider helping a serviceman in need through veterans charities, and giving to refugee assistance in the brutal Summer of horrors blazing through the Middle East. There is the opportunity to introduce yourself to a complete stranger as a Samaritan, and become that stranger's us.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

In Defense of the Firsts

I've been wanting to make this post for a little over two years now, and I finally have enough words to make it salient. This would be one of the “Things I wish I could tell myself five years ago” bits.

My recent job with UPS gave me a large amount of firsts, which I have no small shame in admitting I am late to experiencing. I was a Driver Helper, which meant that I would be the legs of the individual package delivery car, whilst my driver was the wheels and brains. I had my first physical overexertion, my first dependence on my own making of meals, my first experience with “customers”, my first avoiding mauling my a dog, my first understanding of a global enterprise, my first appreciation of my strength and the strength of machinery, and my first reliance on set breakfast consumption.

I list all of these firsts to show a maturation. A few years ago, I noticed a large barrier to my success was trusting myself to carry out the task. I was a millennial Da Vinci: I never finished anything because I didn't have faith in my own abilities. Even now, I can count on both hands the initiatives I started in the last five years and never carried to completion. These shames can cripple one's want to step out once again onto the shaky limb of initiative. The brain remembers all guilts and embarrassments, and it is good that it does. These can become lessons, but often they become tombstones. Let me give an example.

One instance occurred in the Summer between my Senior or Junior year of high school. We were at a beach retreat and I heard a calling from God during the session inside. I ran out onto the beach, onto my knees and looked up. I saw all seven sisters of Pleiades – cementing my understanding that I was being contacted by the Holy. God commanded me to do X. I subconsciously inflated that to 2X, without realizing it, and said “you want 2X? I'll give you 20X!” Since you never saw me in the news, you can rest assured that I failed that calling.

Since that failure, I have had a deep-seated insecurity with my own word. My promise was very rarely given, and every initiative I started was met quickly with the cynic in my mind, callously declaring my failure at every turn. I started dialogues with this cynic, and we are good friends.

I recently assumed a pragmatic mannerism about this, though: if I am to excel in this world, or even survive, I must confront this insecurity. How can my words be made trusted by he who speaks them? How can the porn addict, who says “I am free!” one day, and the next night, “I am in shackles!”, ever begin the harsh journey to holiness? How is he to hear the calm voice of hope call through the morass of cynicism which has such a bed in his heart?

You see, when one cannot trust one's mind to honor one's word, one becomes mistrusting of oneself. Much like you would become untrusting of your right leg if it were to be constantly going numb on you. The leper knows not if his or her arms will do as he or she says, and is thus fearful to trust them.

Looking at the alternatives of suicide or breakthrough, it took a short inquiry to understand that the latter was the amicable choice; I am not ill, merely confused. So, I needed a ledger of things I followed through on, that I succeeded in. A ledger stacked against the perceived failures, to outweigh and topple them. My cynic needed evidence of my promise. And so, I sought out these firsts. Many of which I have yet to complete, but every small first puts me closer to overpowering these shames. If not the quality of the firsts, then the quantity thereof will be my sandbags against this storm.

Never stop seeking firsts, friends. Failures are also firsts. Every thing that you do is a first in some way, and gives you further reason to further contribute, and to further discover more firsts. It is either this or the morass of hopelessness – a pool from which I drink from time to time, just to ponder its vacuousness. We as humans are too important to waste too much time, however, on the pondering of the hopeless. God gave us too much potential. We must merely convince our hearts of that truth, which is likely among humanity's greatest struggles.

I could probably add more to this, and I likely will. I find my best writing comes in my sleeplessness, and tonight's is thanks to the dryer which neglected to dry my sheet.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014


I've made friends with a person in Guild Wars 2 who is autistic and has Down Syndrome. She's also epileptic. It's a strange and humbling experience. I get the opportunity to feed into her, to answer her questions, be patient with her confusion and be her friend. Video games are one of the few places where her physical hindrances don't hamper her ability to be normal as much. She always speaks in the third person, and only uses simple words.

Today, a friend in my guild (a system built into the game to allow a smaller, tighter community to be built around each other, with its own channels of communication and shared rewards) blocked all chat from her, so that he wouldn't have to listen to her or her simple English and lack of quick understanding. The best thing I could say to her was, “perhaps he just needs a break from Lilly for a while!”, and it felt like such a cop-out.

I am angry for this man's disregard of her – his rejection of her for her simple speech and lack of understanding. I understand, though: The eloquence in the words written here would confuse her. To help you understand, I will attempt to write the rest of this so that she can understand it.

Our brains all have problems. Nobody's brain is perfect. Big, important people say her brain has more problems than other people. I don't agree. A brain isn't more not-right because the person who owns it can't talk as well with other people. My ability to speak well means nothing. My brain's broken in other ways. I can't see into the mind of another person, but I know that every other mind is amazing. Every mind has the most amazing story inside. It doesn't make a difference whether one mind can speak its story to other minds. We all deal with very tough problems in our minds as well as our bodies.

But this doesn't change the fact that this friend of mine can tell she is less good at communication. She still finds herself confused at the humor in guild chat, still has trouble playing the game. The difficulty is in slowing down to her pace. I heard from a friend this past week about pacing. A father and his son are walking from their house to his first day of school. The father walks normally, and the son is breathing heavily. The dad looks at him and says, “What's wrong?”, to which the son replies, “Dad, I can't keep up with your walking!” The father slows down, because he knows his son needs to be at a slower pace then. With her, that slow pace is seemingly never-ending.

I heard from elsewhere that a person who is autistic, or with Down Syndrome, is simply a version of us that's more humble. That doesn't help her, to simply tell her she's humble – it's a suggestion that we should consider them to be so. To be kind. Again, this doesn't help to explain to her. And autism doesn't seem to have an explanation, or at least not a satisfactory one. It doesn't change our prerogative, to love justice, seek mercy and walk humbly. We don't know all the mind's natures: perhaps an autistic person has the most fantastic mind: the areas that are damaged in an autistic person leave room for the other areas to grow further.

I think of the three, humility is the most important part of communicating and relating to an autistic person. The communicative skills of a child remind us that we were once so low – and the fragility of our own, seemingly impregnable minds.  

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Chairman (Or, The Cathedral's Victory)

A chairman closes the doors to the Generic First Small Southern Reformed Baptist Church of Bumpkinville and locks them for the last time; faced with debt they could not repay and a failing ministry, the congregation stayed until the last service. Heartfelt goodbyes were said as the community of twenty wondered where they would go next. In their heyday their ministry centered around going to college campuses and proclaiming Christ's justice and the necessity of repentance, and for these years their only source of encouragement was each other and Christ Himself.

The chairman sighed as he looked over the building, its roof sagging under the weight of neglect, its walls and windows cracked and unrepaired. The last ten years had been frightening, as the community watched their building's various accouterments languish away – initially a light fixture in a corner nobody went in, but then the water fountain broke, then the sound system. The summers had been especially brutal, as the air conditioning system simply couldn't keep pace with the swelter outside. Rev. Pastor IV followed with the same fire as his father, inspiring the congregants more and more. The chairman, the youngest on the board, came to the church because it was the only SSRBC in the area, but admitted to his family he felt out of place in the building. He had much greater views as to what the building could be used for, and how to reach out, but the other chairmen denied him due to his youth; he was the man who did the paper work. The congregants were thankful for his work, but never gave him deference.

A tear came to his eye when he recalled the time one of the congregants found freedom from alcoholism. She had been plagued by the issue for much of her life, and was finding it increasingly difficult to live normally. The pastor, a usually aggressive and boisterous man, walked into the room where the chairman was comforting her and sat down, telling her how Christ had given him freedom in his sexual addiction and drug dependency in the 70's. The chairman thought it sounded trite, rehearsed; he had heard a bit of the pastor's story before, and this followed what he said, but the chairman didn't think the man was helping. He was surprised, then, when the woman broke into tears, saying that the pastor said exactly what she needed to hear. She embraced the man, and they both cried into each other.

The chairman was perplexed; this one memory was the only happy moment he could remember as this church. Worship was a drag every week for him, every week for the last eight years since he stopped feeling anything in it. He kept thinking about that memory, and wondered what it was. He never heard God, aside from that one time when he came to Christ, but he needed to ask the question,

“Why did this place exist, God? These people lived for you, and you let this place languish away in disrepair. Their ministry was saving people left and right. So many people have been saved by what the pastor's said at services. Why am I happy this place is finally gone, and why do I feel so hollow?”

The silence dragged on for hours, as the chairman sat on the front steps to the decrepit building and the sun sank below the horizon. He had faded into sleep, and dreamt of the church. God was there, sitting next to him. The chairman balked and babbled, trying to find words to say. The Almighty chuckled and put a finger on his mouth, silencing him with a slight, comforting hush sound. He smiled and said, “It is time to repair the Church, my beloved.”

The Savior of the World then beckoned the chairman to follow Him around the building; its ancient stucco and brick hodgepodge showed its age, as cracks rent open long ago as vines pushed in and broke them apart further. Jesus began to grip each brick individually and strongly, His muscles pulling and shoving against His skin blatantly. Starting in the very corner, the Redeemer moved each brick into its original position, cleaning and remaking them to be as-new. This process went on as the days blew past in the dream, hours eating away. The chairman thought nothing would sound valid in the face of all the Glory shining before him, and had began mumbling the start of sentences, only to be cowed by his own uncertainty. El Shaddai looked up from His work, knowing what the chairman wanted to say, and said, “Speak, beloved; I am here for you, and rejoice in your dialogue.”

The chairman, still very uncertain, stammered, “God... gracious Savior... Why are you repairing this building? The congregants are all gone, the building's bankrupt and worthless. We've failed you.”

“A great question, but I know there is more you need to say, child. Speak your mind, heir,” the Almighty spoke.

“I don't wish to speak ill of You in front of You... but where were You when this church needed funds? Our ministry was bringing people to You, Heavenly Father, we loved you! And yet, this building was allowed by You to degrade and languish, the congregation was allowed by You to diminish and shrink, the ministry was allowed by YOU to become less and less potent, and die. We did Your work, why did You allow all this to die? We were bringing dozens to YOU! And now we're dead!”

“Child, there is much to learn. Here, help me in my work. I believe this part we both need to work on to usher it to completion.” The Almighty took the chairman's hands to the glass shards on the lowest window, and together the Savior and the chairman pushed the shards out into the center; the glass joined seamlessly, extra glass coming from the edges of the cracked pane. The chairman understood what he was doing, and got to repairing the lowest areas with this new found ability of his. He was lost in it, and soon He and the Father had completed all they could reach on the floor.

The chairman left and came back with a ladder, but dropped it when he saw Elohim knelt down on the wall... on the wall. The chairman walked up surprised and asked for an explanation. “I turned water to wine, walked on water, and defeated the grave. I am not made accountable to gravity, beloved,” He said, smiling as he returned to the work on the upper windows. The chairman joined Christ again in His work.

“There is something you need to know, child. I know you feel the ministry at your community was less effective than it needed to be, and I know why. You looked to the ministry for the saving and the ability, but you never looked to Me. Your church ends at these bricks and mortar, but I am here to expand your view. Come, that's the last brick. Very well done; let's go inside and deal with the rafters and insulation.”

Entering the church, the chairman was taken aback; it was in much worse disrepair than he left it, just the day before. “All will be made known in time, love,” Elyon explained, then picked up the parts of a pew that had fallen apart. The two helped each other piece together the sawdust and tattered hymnals as The Alpha and Omega continued:

“These pews don't seem to have been sat in, in quite a very long while. Look, this brochure is from 1993”, I AM said as He passed the brochure over. It struck the chairman deep when he looked it over; he remembered this one well. It was a very hot July day, and the pastor (then Rev. Pastor III) was inflamed in greater passion than the chairman had seen before in his life. But the chairman wasn't listening. He just didn't feel anything in the pastor's sermons anymore. But the church needed him desperately, so he stayed. He wrote on the brochure, “God be with this church”.

Tears came again to the man's eyes as he glared at the Creator and said, “Why? You torture me with this reminder of the failure of you and the church.”

“Child, you still don't see. Here, up on the rafters. Those lights need replacing. That church indeed was integral to my plan in this city, and it has run its course. But my work is not done. I'm not interested in the churches that you can build and house. I'm here for the global one, you understand that, I know you do.”

“Oh Maker, why then did you plan for this church to die? This city only has one. Now it has none,” the chairman said.

“You still don't understand, child. Your church is not dead. The people who went to the church you just closed may not come back, but they are saved because of my presence in that church. Nothing said in that building that effected someone else was spoken by humans, but by Me through them.”

“So You give the saving, and not the pastor. Yes, I understand. But why have I never thought of that before? It seems like I know this, and it's common knowledge, yet I’ve never put it into words,” the chairman said, pausing in his thoughts.

“It is a mystery My children deal with, that they have things set in their minds without thinking, and things of profound nature stay just below the surface. There we go, this looks like a proud temple again. Come child, let us go back outside. There is something you need to see.”

The chairman and the King of Kings went back outside,the chairman babbling about his recent epiphany. “So, the whole world is Your cathedral, and You are the only one who saves, and there's no ministry who has that ability, but it is You and You alone who carries that, and it's not me or the pastor who saves people, but it's You through he and I...” the chairman continued as he and the Divine Being ascended the church again. As they walked on the wall, the chairman didn't notice the unusually high wall until they were well past where the wall should end.

He stopped and looked down. The red, faded brick was now golden; a facade of such glory as he has never seen before. The chairman and the Almighty sat on the top of the facade as the chairman took in the rest of the building. Several kitchens, fully stocked; rooms for people to sleep in if they fall on hard times; a sanctuary of such regal stature as to elicit praise upon entering; all in the open air, for there was no threat of weather ruining what God had built. A mighty cathedral on a foundation wrought from the most glorious bedrock, pure marble laced with gems of every sort.

The chairman spent days remarking and praising the Lord for His work in him, then looked at the horizon and stuttered. “Lord, Great Almighty Jesus, My Liege... what are those?” he asked.

The things in question were shambling to and fro; a blown-out window here, a shattered door there, pine straw everywhere. They fluttered like rain-soaked leaves in a slight wind. Wails reverberated around the chairman's cathedral, bouncing off the gilded walls. It was a horror to see. The Almighty's face fell.

“My cathedral in you is now so luxurious, you do not recognize what you once were. These shambling masses are what I see My people as, every day. You and I started on My cathedral in you such a long time ago, but you stopped letting Me in. These people haven't called upon Me yet to build in them until they are complete; that is why I have come to you, My child – you have a mission. Your cathedral has been built, now it must shine. Here,” the Almighty produced a light from within His chest, “The bell tower on the north side. Light it, child.”

The chairman took the light, carrying it gingerly to the tower, placing it in its cradle. The Creator said, “It's a shame this is all a large metaphor, but I had to say it in a way you'll understand. I am with you, child. But know that it is My work in you that must be brought to completion in your life, not your work in others. I've given you this cathedral; come back to me and we will maintain it. Go, my child, and shine.”

the chairman awoke on the steps of the church; the same decrepit building as before. He didn't know what was to become of his life, but he knew he was no longer worried about its direction. He went back home, to his single bedroom apartment, and looked for another church in the region. There was a more recent building put up near to his apartment, and he went that Sunday. He was not content to watch with apathy as this church languished, but he would do everything he could to be a conduit for the Spirit. He was still very young, but he already felt significance and victory in his stead.

For God doesn't measure victory in the building's revenue, but in the community's growth. And God was going to build a mighty cathedral in everyone, this chairman knew.

He just knew. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

In Defense of the Pursuit

A long piece, and one that has been simmering in my head for quite a while, shaping my day-to-day life. It pertains quite specifically to the masculine nature, which I feel I’ve been missing for much of my life. In my choices in life, I've left danger and uncertainty to others, ascribing instead to vent my ideologies and understandings to the abstract – so that nobody can directly challenge my knowledge or understanding. This has led me to be quite amateur in the standard masculine field of experience – not devoid of any particular skill (though I lament the inability to wield and understand many heavy and light tools, and have a myriad of skills I am devoid of knowledge of), but rather an innocence in the field altogether. Much like a child initially shies away from things, I've developed a deep-rooted sense of security in pacifism.

In short, I saw the masculine nature of danger and responsibility and became frightened with it. I hid – and because I was quite amazing at avoiding responsibility, I excelled at hiding. I don't know how, but at any possible moment in my childhood that responsibility beckoned, I saw it as the possibility of mistake and cried “begone!” and hid.

In later years, I subconsciously realized this fear – and parodied it in my life. Instead of hiding and being afraid of people (who were a prime source of responsibility and possibility of failure), I took a farcical approach to my fear: if I was afraid of people thinking me a failure, I would let down all preconceptions and portray myself as the failure. I would be the savior of the outcast by being happy to be the outcast.

I wasn't a very intelligent young boy.

Here I had a deeply rooted fear of challenge, and a misconception that my belittling would be my freedom. This persisted through half my high school career, then I learned about achievement. Professor Otieno was the Computer Science teacher at the school, but to me he was so much more. If you want to sign up for a computer class and have life lessons bestowed on you as an added bonus, this man will give that. In the four years at Mount Pisgah, this man's imbued me with the self-confidence that I desperately needed – but never knew I did. He was very blunt; whereas other professors did not feel the need to invest in a student's mental complications, Mr. O reveled in embracing my social ineptitude and was a source of consistent and profound comfort and support. He would always tell me to think more of myself, and he will always rank among the most influential people of my life. I get the feeling his and my lives are not yet through influencing each other, and I am anxious for the day he can continue to influence me.

This is all to say that though I missed out on much of my developmental understanding in the social field, one thing was not lost: self confidence. Were it not for Mr. O (and various other titans in my life), I would not have structured my self-worth on something other than worldly things.

So high school ended, and I found myself alone. I picked up project after project, each new one challenging myself. I found life in these challenges – finally the ineptitude of my youth was being addressed in the Spring and Summer of my collegiate years. It was in these years that I came to a realization: in my youth, I had no pursuit.

A man requires a pursuit: that's one of the many reasons Christ is so appealing to me. My pursuit for Him ends with my last breath, and so he will always be a source of life for me. A man's pursuit is his life source. A project is a source, and I've engaged in many. Every project I start challenges me, and I’ve yet to finish many of them. My current project is also my most expansive, and most daunting: a narrated storyboard, utilizing animated images in an aesthetic manner to provide an engaging story. I'm alive with this pursuit now, but I know it won't last. This is not an end, but a means to an end.

A man needs pursuit. I lust for that pursuit. Pornography isn't a pursuit. Porn is the opposite – you sit, and it comes to you. Porn is the taste of orange juice and milk in my mouth, because every time I look at it, I stick another knife in my pursuit. I stick another knife in my love, in my passion, in my Jesus.

Porn, and all other sins, also damages your woman. That singularly spectacular woman that Christ Created and placed on Earth, weaving your and her life together intentionally, as if to say, “My child, here is your pursuit; this is the passion I have placed in this world for you to lust after, as I lust after you. Pursue her, as you and I pursue one another.”

I hate that porn has been in my life, and still slings to me. Because of unrighteous lust, I have been clouded. I cannot trust myself to pursue a woman, because the responsibility of such a pursuit daunts me. I have thought myself able to pursue, and been shamed into admitting I am not.

But I will not end this on a depressing note. Instead, I stand currently hopeful and expectant of freedom. I wake every day telling myself the best day of my life is today, and since then, I’ve been raising the bar on the best day of my life every day of my life. The pursuit of love and God is not dead, friends. Find a pursuit, something you are daunted by. Do it. Engage, pursue, and let that pursuit drive you.

Because a man without a pursuit is a lion in a cage. Eventually, the lion doesn't think he's a lion anymore. The lion is dangerous, and so it it kept in the cage. A lion in a cage, however, is not a lion; this large, prideful animal is not large, or prideful. The pursuit in its eyes has drowned in the drab of its cage. It longs for the plains it cannot remember.

This lion has its key, but it feels powerless – not being able to lunge, it doesn't know how; not being able to prowl, to hunt, to pursue... it forgets how and thinks it cannot. And this lion, should it be set free, will go awry many times. It may die in its pursuit. But in dying, the lion will die knowing it is a lion. Brothers, the pursuit awaits.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Think of Nothing but the Shivering of Your Soul Against the Cold.

Think of nothing but the shivering of your soul against the cold.

From the fire, you were born,
The heat comforts you as you bask in the warm,
Your parents teach you much, and much they warn,
Think of nothing but the shivering of your soul against the cold.
A strange urgence and once you ignore,
For learning is to be done and understanding to bore,
Independence is a light on a city, and you soon ignore,
Think of nothing but the shivering of your soul against the cold.
You are largely alone, you feel a sliver of warm abating,
You think it not harsh and keep on changing,
A girl soon finds your eyes and a coldness is weighting,
Think of nothing but the shivering of your soul against the cold.
This girl stoke your fire and feed your flame,
This cold you felt of loss and fear, she will make lame.
Yes, a romance is what is missing in your game!
Think of nothing but the shivering of your soul against the cold.
Her sex is amazing, but a coldness creeps in,
you're hearing a howling against the bedsprings' din,
you look up and see the frost spin...
Think of nothing but the shivering of your soul against the cold.
Indeed, her body wafts less of that glorious heat,
With each kiss, her magic continues to wean...
This girl is not sating you, a chill comes to scream.
Think of nothing but the shivering of your soul against the cold.
Another will fill it, how about ten on a screen?
But being alone lets the chill surge into your stream!
You find another girl, but she is not keen to the screen -
Think of nothing but the shivering of your soul against the cold.
You seek another body to keep you warm at night,
But the perversion makes you afraid to let intimacy be nigh -
For what if you want your girl to be another actress to porn's blight?
Think of nothing but the shivering of your soul against the cold.
You shiver every day, but hold fast alone -
This burden is for you to carry and atone,
Will God forgive if you celibize to your grave?
Think of nothing but the shivering of your soul against the cold.
You know a woman will not warm you, but the frost bites,
Your soul shrivels as you find hopelessness in its might,
You think of your legacy, and how it will be thrown from light;
Think of nothing but the shivering of your soul against the cold.
You recall your parents' urgence, and understand the message:
You thought not of your soul until the cold set a shiverage.
You are held back from your purpose and design by a grip:


Think nothing but the shivering of your soul against the cold.
You will find a warmth in the hope of the Eternal Fire Bold.
I find victory in a fire that will engulf this little world;
I find freedom in a Savior that proclaims hope into my hold.
I find Him in the intervention of His placing men into my mold.
I find a community of support to tackle the hell of sin on Earth.
I find peace, love, understanding, breakthrough... and worth.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Oak and the Mangroves: A Cautionary Tale

A tropical storm rages off of Florida's coast – the outer arms of its impeding torrents and slip winds curl just shy of the storm as the waves churn more fierce – much like the first voices decrying persecution and awaiting the resounding chaos of those who take up their banner. These waves are the cavalry, sweeping away any animal or sprout small and unfortunate enough to be caught in its pull. A single Oak stands on this shore, embedded in a rock older than the shore itself – the granite older than the grains of sand which finally exposed it to the sun – standing obstinate against the waves. Its roots have dominated the rock, much like a man dominates his theology. Its trunk is battered, with many scores and cuts from the flotsam of the waves.

As the tree overlooks its newest adversary, it is reminded of the historic storms it survived when younger; though every year melds together, it and its friends were contented to stand against the storms, crying out in the gale for the storms to stop. Their numbers were thinned, and he was left alone – the strongest Oak in the world. Its trunk several feet thick and its limbs reaching vast and unyielding, the tree braces for the impacts.

Elsewhere further down the coast, a single Mangrove looks to the storm with bravery. If the Mangrove was alone, it would indeed have need to be frightened; much like any normal human, this Mangrove understands that he cannot stand against much alone. Its roots are wide and deep, but being so deep in the water leaves him exposed. But he is not afraid.

As the wind pushed him toward the shore, and the waves push him up, his roots drag and brace against his reason for bravery: the same rock the Oak has pierced and rooted deeply into, the Mangrove has dug into as well, though this rock has not been shown the sun lately. The wind pushes him back, and as he sways, his sister behind him holds him – as does the three other brothers around her, and the ten behind them, and the fifty behind them, leading to a swamp of Mangroves extending for miles. He is emboldened further by this community.

The first wave hits, and engulfs all the forward trees. Their leaves rip away, and the wave pierces through to the later ranks. However, as it cuts through the trees, each tree absorbs a certain portion of the wave's power, completely subduing the rage of the sea. It is not time for celebration, for there are more waves, and fearsome winds, to face in short time.

The storm hits in fierce bitterness, howling against the Mangroves. All of them are embedded in the granite beneath, and the waves are mollified and proven ineffective against the trees of the rock, standing together. The Mangrove in the front was broken off in the waves, thrown back through its brothers and sisters, and goes flying with the wave. It is in a panic, and reaches out for help, for the community it once loved. As the wave is crushed, the Mangrove sweeps in with the swell into another group of Mangroves; it grafts with the network of roots and branches in time, but it is safe against the storm – connected to the rock underneath by the trees surrounding him.

The storm is gone inland now, and the sister of the uprooted Mangrove is reminded of the Oak that he spoke of; she looks down the shore in its direction, and quickly averts her gaze. The Oak indeed lived a strong life, but in its will to prove itself against the storms of its life, it bit into the rock, crushing and warping it, until it no longer was the rock it knew as a young sapling. The Oak faltered in the storm; its trunk burst apart under the weight of the wind against its proud branches and the waves against its length.

The canopy was nowhere to be seen, but the trunk was a legacy of violence. The scored and gnarled length was on its side, its top a shredded mass of splinters and sap. The rock it so tightly clung to and never wavered from cracked and fractured, bursting apart predictably – but unthinkable to the oak. Its wreckage was all over the shore, and the waves came in to pull away the dust of the rock, to bring back to the sea.

Occasionally this dust would make it over to the Mangroves, and the sea would ask, “Is this not your rock, which your copse so tightly clings to?”

The Mangroves respond, “That dust does not belong to my rock; our rock gives us strength through each other. None of us claim to own the rock, or be more tight into the rock, and yet all of us are embedded.”

Don't be an Oak. This God doesn't need you to prove something, He needs you to stand against the storm. This analogy is not perfect, because obviously trees cannot uproot and go to sea, but let us assume that the sea's mercurial nature suffices that defect in the analogy.

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