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🔆

Sins of the Father

Growing up in my church, I heard a lot about Generational Curses. It was common to hear friends talking about “alcoholism runs in my family” when you choose to drink. Yet, the more we talked about those curses, the more I started to see their manifestations in my family’s life. The brokenness of their spirits gave me pause, not often knowing what to do.

I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations
    I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
    I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected—
    even children in the third and fourth generations.

Exodus 34:7 (NLT)

Abraham bore Ishmael first then Issac. Ishmael was illegitimate and Issac became the blessed child.

Issac had Esau then Jacob. Jacob tricked the blessings and birthright away from Esau and become Israel.

Jacob (Israel) had twelve children and eventually Joseph, one of the youngest, became the one that would honor his family after being despised by his older siblings.

Judah, one of the twelve kings of Israel, had three boys. The first borns, Er and Onan, were wicked in God’s eyes and died. Judah ends up having twins, Perez and Zerah, with the widow, Tamar. Zerah was thought to be the first born by sticking his hand out first, but Perez ends up being born first.

Spoiler Alert: Perez is a great ancestor of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 1:3)

[Unrelated note: Note that Jesus says the first will be last and the last will be first. (Matthew 20:16) Cool little connection I just noticed.]

This is four generations of familial dysfunction and the failure of birthright to be passed down properly. Abraham, Issac, Israel, and Judah were all liars and tricksters that received their just desserts in due time yet great patriarchs of Christianity. Sarah, Rachel, and Tamar had trouble baring children, with Tamar literally having her husbands die before pregnancy. Sarah and Rebekah were all used to say they were their husband’s sister instead of the truth and so much more. There’s so much dysfunction that it’s amazing but God still used them.

But when did all the troubles stop? When Joseph lived a righteous life.

If, however, he begets a son
Who sees all the sins which his father has done,
And considers but does not do likewise…

But has executed My judgments
And walked in My statutes—
He shall not die for the iniquity of his father;
He shall surely live!

Ezekiel 18:14, 17 (NKJV)

Let’s look at two of the sins that the patriarchs of Israel struggled with: sexual immorality and impatience.

Sexual Immorality (Genesis 39):

It’s clear that Joseph was “handsome in form and appearance”. He was given complete control over Potiphar’s home and access to whatever he desired except his wife. Potiphar’s wife makes a pass at Joseph. After numerous attempts and Joseph literally fleeing from her, he still gets sent to prisoner. Yet, the Lord was still with Joseph.

Impatience (Genesis 40-41):

Joseph was sent to prison but received favor from the prison keeper. It isn’t fully detailed how long he was in prison for, but it is safe to assume for a long time for something he didn’t do. Joseph helps interpret two of the Pharaoh’s Officers’ dreams but is betrayed by the butler and forgotten for two years. At the end of two years, Joseph interprets the Pharaoh’s dream and is elevated to Governor over all of Egypt.

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In as much as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.”

Genesis 41:30-40 (NKJV)

Joseph then has a heartwarming but probably exhausting play with his brothers after they come to Egypt for food. Joseph eventually reveals himself to his entire family and brings them all to Egypt. Jacob rejoices with the new knowledge of his once thought dead son, is alive and well. On his deathbed, Israel blesses Joseph’s two children, Ephraim and Manasseh, in reverse order, once again, putting the first last. (Ephraim turns out to be the ancestor of Joshua and King Jeroboam)

Joseph lived to see three generations of his family before his passing and many years of peace. He was blessed by the Lord to be an establisher of the nation of Israel and didn’t experience the same strife that his forefathers lived. Joseph broke his family’s curses by standing rightfully on God. He never took the credit for the Lord, and never forgot his blessings. Joseph is proof that you can establish a new family legacy and not be bound to the past.

How do you break generations of dysfunction and sin? Sins of the father visit but do not have to have a home with the son. Make a decision today to live without it.

This is a lot easier said than done. I’ll talk more about the choice to head in a new direction next time.

Turn Your Brightness Up!

#BeMagnificent🔆

God’s Freedom

My God is a God of Freedom. A God of Emancipation, Liberation, and Deliverance. A God of Restoration, Reclamation, and Revelation. My God is a God of Joy, Peace, and Love. My God does not settle for less but, in every opportunity, seeks to give more to those without. My God is the embodiment of new beginnings and the avenger of what is lost.

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free…

Luke 4:18

If we look at the Bible in its entirety, the story of Israel from Adam until Jesus is a rescue mission. God sent his only Son to set us free from sin to embrace freedom within Christ. Over and over again we see a trend of Israel becoming a slave to a foreign nation, and their minds and hearts to be lost, and God sending a Judge/Savior/King to free them from their bondage. This is literal but also a larger metaphor for life. God intended us to have a certain fullness, freedom, and joy in our lives. Freedom in the physical, mental, and spiritual.

Father God sent His Son Jesus Christ to free us from the curse of sin, the lies of the enemy, and the weakness of the body. The Old Testament is a chronicle of how humanity, on its own volition, does not have the ability to defeat sin or maintain the virtue required for a peaceful and fruitful life in relationship with God. There might be moments of integrity and focus, but eventually, we will fade and fall victim to sin again. We do not have the ability to reestablish a connection with the Lord on our own and will be stuck repeating the same cycles forever.

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

Hebrews 10:11-14

Jesus steps in as the second Adam. Allowing for all of the wrath of God to be poured out on Himself, and pays the ultimate price for our sin to redeem us for all time: past, present, and future. That doesn’t mean that sin doesn’t exist anymore but now we have a way to be redeemed and returned to our Father. We have freedom.

But wait, there are moments when various biblical writers talk about being a “slave for Christ”. How do we have a God of Justice and Freedom but are told to be slaves to Him? Weren’t we already “slaves to sin” as the Bible reiterates? Yes, but the Bible uses slaves of Christ to highlight that we were bought for a price. After we were bought and paid for with the price of Christ’s death, we were free. We were once owned and bound to sin from our birth, now we are indebted and freed by Father God.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

John 8:36

In slavery (or indebtedness) to Christ but freedom from sin, there are benefits and responsibilities. The moment you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you automatically have access to multiple types of freedom. You are free from death, disease, sin, evil spirits, lack, and the world’s systems. At the same time, we are required to do one extremely hard task for the rest of our lives: Be the best representative for Christ that we can be.

Being a great Christ Representative means that we “cannot serve two masters” by still willfully living in sin (our former master) while proclaiming freedom. It also means that to be a great representative, we also must look attractive to other people to even want to be free. We have to reflect God’s goodness while showing others why Christ’s life is the example to follow. Freedom has its responsibilities but also its perks.

If you have any ideas or thoughts you would like to share, please leave them in the comments below. 

Turn Your Brightness Up!!

#BeMagnificent🔆

Permission to be Loved

A few months ago, I was sitting in therapy really having a small breakdown. I was crying over the years and years of the emotional trauma of unrequited love. I have loved so many people with all of my heart to only have them come and go without a second glance.

My therapist responds:

“You have loved all these people, but when have you loved yourself?”

Continue reading “Permission to be Loved”

In God I Trust

The past year has been a tough one for me. I’ve had highs and lows that have sculpted me into a man who I would not have recognized months before. I did one of the best things in my life and possibly one of the most dangerous: I asked God for something.

Continue reading “In God I Trust”