Eating Good, Seeing God

Food has always been very important to me. Not just because it tastes good (it does) but because it is significant. Great moments in my life have always been shared around a meal. This year, God has been doing something new for me regarding food and how I interact with it within my life.

In January, I participated in a 21-day fast with my church. It wasn’t just about food, it was to remove whatever you deem a distraction from in the way of your relationship with God. It was a truly humbling experience that opened my mind to further interaction with the Holy Spirit. No food, no water from midnight to 6pm was challenging but it smoothed a lot of my metaphorical edges. The denying of self to create space to interact with the Father was really eye-opening. It also made me reflect on my interactions with God.

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

Matthew 4:4 (NKJV)

Every time I got hungry, I had to depend on God to bring me past that point. Every time I became irritable, I had to hold on to God’s goodness and continue to be a reflection of Him instead of what I was in that moment. Each day that I spent fasting, taught me not to be swayed by my emotions, feelings, and body, but to focus on the Lord. The 21 days were hard, but when I got to the end, I felt different.

I didn’t crave the same things that I did before. I didn’t go back to secular music. I was mindful of the movies and shows I watched. I held back on social interactions that I wasn’t strong enough to be in. I started to routinely spend time with God. I talked with Him. I read my Bible more. I listened to more gospel. I spent time with Him and my life changed. I couldn’t even go back to the same foods. I cut my portion sizes, lost 20lbs, and felt healthier for it. Around the same time, I walked out on a promise that God had for me.

God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

Numbers 23:19 (NKJV)

On April 1, 2018, on Resurrection Sunday, I was called into the front of the church and delivered from my Seafood allergy. Without going too heavily into it, my allergy was attached to a lie that I broke agreement with that day. The experience was new to me. I’ve never seen deliverance before. I definitely cannot recall experiencing it personally before. I had to believe in what God said was true. I said I believed it, but it wasn’t until a little less than a year later that I decided to put that belief into action.

Last month, I was sitting next to a friend at a restaurant after church. She was eating salmon. I took that opportunity and tried a tiny bit. I tingled a bit but no reaction. A couple weeks later I tried some fried calamari and a piece of shrimp. No problems at all. A couple weeks after that, I tried an oyster for the first time. I was blown away! For the first time in my life, I ate seafood without breaking out into hives or my mouth and throat swelling up. I praised the Lord!

At the end of March, I came across Acts 10.

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance.

He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds.

Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

Acts 10:9-16 (NIV)

All of a sudden, I understood the freedom that God had given me. I even went out of my way and tried Pork for the first time in 15 years. I used to get horrible tension headaches from Pork. This time, no problems at all. God wanted to show me that nothing was unclean if it was from God. I saw the food, but then I read further into Acts.

Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

Acts 10:28 (NKJV)

This resonated with greatly with me. Peter proceeded to go into detail about God using Israel as His chosen ones to reach the rest of the world. If I looked at my deliverance from food allergies as just the food or something for me, I would be missing the most important part. God’s miracles and works in your life are not just for you, but for others in the world. Peter’s vision opened him up to speaking and saving a whole group of Gentiles. Peter moving beyond his preconceptions to what God designed brought the Gospel to those that would never hear. It changed lives.

Since then, I’ve started to think deeper. My blessings are supposed to be vehicles and windows to God’s goodness in my life. I had to remind myself of that as I re-conceptualized my blessing. I didn’t truly care about eating seafood and pork. I cared about the missed opportunities of community building and relationship development. I want to break bread with more people. When I go to new places, I don’t want to be held back by dietary restrictions. I want to eat, interact, and grow with others in the world. Each interaction I have gives me more opportunities to share God’s light.

It’s not about food. It’s about life and the moments that stick with us. Sharing life with others is a blessing and God knows I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

What blessings are you asking God for? In what ways can those blessings be used to give God glory? Let me know in the comments below.

Turn Your Brightness Up!

#BeMagnificent🔆

Conquering Lust

Sin was noise.

The more I sinned, the louder the noise got in my head. I would be overwhelmed by thoughts going in and out, continuously looping around my brain, day and night. It would get so busy in my mind, that the smallest thought would get lost in a maze never to be seen again. I would be paralyzed by words. Frozen by occurrences. Divided by past, present, and future.

I was doing everything right though. I looked the part. Women loved me. I acted the part. I had a handsome and cool crew of friends that commanded rooms when we entered. I had the prestige. People knew my name. I could hold a conversation with anyone. I could go anywhere and feel comfortable. I was doing all of the right things needed to be known, seen, and leave a mark. By all accounts, I should have been happy.

Even in laughter the heart may sorrow,
And the end of mirth may be grief.

Proverbs 14:13 (NKJV)

In isolation, I would fall into depression. I would go out with friends, drink, meet women, and whether I went home alone or not, would want to be left alone while being deafly afraid of being alone. I’d pick a different girl every night of the week to spend time with but really didn’t want to be with any of them. I would lay awake at night replaying scenes from the day, over and over again, with different decisions and outcomes nonstop. I would rationalize the good and the bad until no option was unscrutinized. Decisions left me anxious in times of action, and depressed in times stillness. Focus evaded me, confidence alluded me, I doubted myself, and at the same time, I didn’t know me at all. I was a bundle of nerves held together by scotch tape with a fancy veneer.

I’ve had numerous moments like this in life. However, three or four years ago, I didn’t want to deal with things the same way I did before; going out until I built a steady stable of women to distract me from myself. I didn’t want to hide in a bottle or beg to be around people that were similarly empty. Yet, I would stay at home watching those going out, faking happiness, but faking happiness together, while I sat at home wondering if there was something I was missing.

There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

PROVERBS 14:12 (NKJV)

I filled that space with religion, but not God, for a while. I built expectations of church, family, and friends that were unreasonable and got disappointed when they didn’t follow through. I did everything to reach some semblance of peace. I reached towards God, not knowing why or how. My surprise was when He reached back.

I started to hear from God again around that time and in Lukewarm Obedience I decided to push through the things thought were the most difficult to me, Celibacy and giving up my social relationship with Alcohol. The alcohol was the easy part, I haven’t touched a drop in months, but the Celibacy was the hard part.

Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

2 Timothy 2:22

It was more than just the Celibacy that seemed difficult. I hadn’t been having sex but everyday was a challenge not to bow to lust. It was the masturbation when stressed, easy access to porn online, sexual photos on Instagram, shows/movies with long love-making scenes, freaky conversations on Twitter, lustful lyrics in music, and the constant thoughts about relationships. Everything was connected to make me desire personal satisfaction without limit. I was fighting hard, but it was only me fighting.

This past January hit and during a new 21-day fast, God’s voice became clear. He wanted to see how much I desired to be free from the things that bound me for such a long time. I didn’t just give up food, it was a time to get closer to the Lord. I listened to only Gospel music, gave up hip-hop podcasts, read my Bible twice a day, woke up at 5:30am to pray daily, fasted, and spent more time with my spiritual father. All this time with God started to calm me. The noise quieted. My nerves were eased and it was just better. I woke up every morning happy, and ready to get closer to the Lord.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Isaiah 26:3

In 2017, I focused on my Celibacy a lot. Every day was a success, I constantly counted days and celebrated each one, but when I stumbled, I stumbled hard. I would beat myself up and that would cycle into me stumbling again. It would start off as reading sexual tweets from women masked as their sexual liberation and fighting against misogyny. Then, it would turn into looking at pictures or 10-second clips of beautiful women. Then, I’d find myself searching porn or looking at old “memories” of my exes. By the end, I’d be a big horny monster, still unfulfilled, but content until the next urge hit a few hours later.

God started off gradual. He didn’t force anything. He just asked me if I wanted to continue like this. He explained to me that overcoming sin is not something I can do on my own. No matter how hard I try, there will always be moments of weakness, but in Him, I am strong. He told me that the reason I fail is because I’m doing it instead of letting the Holy Spirit work in me to change my desires. He explained that the reason I kept going back is because I’m not willing to change my current life. I cannot have two masters: myself & God. I needed to pick one.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Matthew 6:24 (NKJV)

God told me to clean my house. I looked around at my apartment and it was like I could finally see for the first time. I saw old artifacts, gifts, and reminders of women, dating back eight years, still taking up room. God told me to make space. While I was cleaning out my dresser, I came across my bag of emergency condoms. I was about to close the drawer when God asked, “Are you planning to fail?” I paused. Felt the truth, and I threw them away. God never yells or condemns me. He just asked a simple question. My answer shocked even myself. I declared to God, “I am celibate until marriage.” My whole body quivered for a second, and then I placed my trash outside for pick-up.

I unfollowed people on social media that lived in ways that I’d be negatively influenced by. My rules regarding women changed, putting space between me and women in relationships or keeping additional numbers of people around so I not alone past a certain time. I deleted ALL of my old “memories” of exes so I wouldn’t have anything to be tempted by. There was even a young lady, from my past that I loved dearly, that I had to let go. I realized I was leaning on her in case of emergency. If I had a bad day or something didn’t work out right, deep down I knew I could call her up, and she would make me feel like I mattered. She was my crutch. God’s words rang true, “Are you planning to fail?”

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 

Matthew 5:27-29 (KJV)

It wasn’t just lust I started to deal with, it was insecurities too. I threw away t-shirts and objects connected to certain times in my life that weighed me down. I let go of people and ideas that seemed to hinder my self-esteem. I looked at my life and removed all the distractions and stumbling blocks I could think of. I just wanted to be free. But, God had to tell me, this alone wouldn’t free me. My pastor said you can get rid of all the objects in your house, live like a monk, and still be bound. God said he was right.

It wasn’t the objects holding me back. It was me. It was the feelings, emotions, and beliefs that had to be broken and came out of agreement with. I held on to those things from so many years ago because I was afraid I wouldn’t get new things, meet new people, or have new experiences. I held on to the hope of meeting them again at another place, in another time, because I didn’t trust that someone could, would, or should love me again. I realized that even the lust wasn’t really about the sex to me, it was about feeling loved. It was about feeling like I mattered to someone enough to share their deepest secrets with. Sex was valuable to me. It was a way for me to prove I mattered and give weight to my existence. Yet, when I went even deeper, it was about my trust in God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

I finally got it. Was I still planning to fail? Was I trying so hard to hold on to the past because those were my “best days”? Did I truly believe that was it for me? A handful of nights of spontaneity and liquor, followed by days of trying to retrace my steps, fix what was broken, or hold together until the next chance for letting go? I wanted more for myself. I believe that God wants more for me. Lust lost its luster. It became easy to give up the things I was holding on to because I trust God to give me better. I just have to be patient.

Lust hasn’t been a problem since. I might have a second here or there where I need to remind myself of God’s promises, but I feel more confident and calm than I have in years. I have no desire to get ahead of my blessings because I believe my Father loves me too much to not have the joy of someone to share my entire self with one day. I’ve tried too long to do it on my own with little to show for it. My Father put too much time and energy into shaping me for me to be giving myself away for such a low price and at such a high cost. Lust is a trick. It is the desire to take something ahead of its time without knowing if its yours or not. Lust is impatience, distrust, and pride rolled into one. Lust is a lot, but it’s not mine anymore.

Hope you all enjoyed this. It was much harder to write than I expected. My perspective has changed and I wanted to share my lessons learned. Do you have stories of confronting Lust? Let me know in the comments below.

Turn Your Brightness Up!

#BeMagnificent🔆

Out of the Mud, Into the Light

There is something about the Blood of Jesus Christ. The power that it involves and how we interact with that knowledge that changes our entire world.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Luke 19:10 (NIV)

It’s been about three years since I went to Los Angeles searching for purpose and reason after the death of my grandmother. I was welcomed by family that never met me before that enveloped me with an unconditional love that could only come from Father God. It extended beyond them knowing me, beyond family, beyond a shared history, all the way into gifting me love that I felt empty without.

My family’s love left me thirsty for more. I spent the next year reading my Bible from Genesis to Revelations, looking for some sort of grounding principle in the world. I desperately desired a meaning, history, or identity. I felt disconnected from the lives everyone lived in and was just clinging on so that I wouldn’t fade away into the night.

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
   and never fails to bear fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 (niv)

I didn’t hate myself, but I didn’t believe I deserved anything either. I shrunk myself in regards to the wishes and desires of others around me. I let my feelings and emotions, that swayed in a moments notice, control my being. I internalized the voices of doubt, loathing, and regret until they drowned me in my own sorrow. I was wading in toxic sludge, hopeless, just waiting for it all to give out.

While in this dark place, a tiny voice resonated with my soul. It attracted my mind with a search for answers of things misconstrued and lost in time. It resonated with the hope in my heart for something better, not just for me but, for the world. It healed my soul, helping me remove all of the weights left from the pain I held on to for so long. It reinvigorated my spirit, revitalizing my dreams, and bringing hope where there was none. It gave me faith, something to trust in when I couldn’t even trust myself. Finally, it brought love where the was none.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13 (niv)

That great light in the distance gave me hope for something better. It recharged my battery, causing my to go from treading water to furiously dragging and pulling my lifeless body to shore. I could not let that light go out. I had no choice but to keep getting closer, inch by inch and step by step. It was so lonely and dark here, but there appeared to be light, life, and warmth elsewhere.

I became hungry for more. The warmth of the love I felt of a Father constantly chasing His children named Israel made me desire it for myself. I envied Moses talking to God like a friend. I wanted the Lord to know I had a heart after God too, like David. I wanted Jesus to not weep for me but smile. I could not stay in the pool of desperation any longer. The waves occasionally would push me further back and wash over my head but in my eyes, the light only beckoned me more.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)

The moment I reached the shores, I cried. I cried and cried. I felt so helpless, so hopeless, for such a long time. I was lost, alone, and dead inside. So, when I joined a church and someone handed me a towel, I barely knew what to do. They held me in the ever-flowing streams of life as I peeled away dirt, muck, and grime that felt like it seeped into my very soul. I felt stained. I felt like I would never get clean, but my Father came in, hugged me, and told His servants to bring me new clothes. He was the light the entire time and I just wanted to bask in His glow. But, He told me there is more to do.

“There are others, lost, drowning in the same sorrow as you. Believing that there is no other alternative than living life listless, dead inside. But, that’s not true. You made it out. You made it to the other side and all I want you to do is keep a lookout. Shine your light as bright as you can to everyone that can see. Call and beckon them to come this way. If they come, usher them into safety, and I will take care of them from there.”

So, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll Shine On.

Let your light shine before men, that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in the heaven.

Matthew 5:16 (KJV)

I just wanted to write something slightly different in reflection of the change my life has seen over the last three years. I am the same same but different. I’ve been cleaned up, invigorated, and revitalized. For those reasons alone, I must continue to share my life. Keep me in your prayers as I keep you in mine. Any comments, questions, or thoughts, leave them below.

Turn Your Brightness Up!

#BeMagnificent🔆