Not Good to be Alone

One of my favorite stories in the Bible to learn from is the Garden of Eden. A vast majority of people focus primarily on “the Fall” and the eating of fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but there are other, more important lessons I like to focus on here. As a single man, I read this story to get an idea of how I’m supposed to live life before sin entered the world.

The the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.

Genesis 2:15 (NKJV)

The first thing God did was give Adam a task, a purpose. God had Adam tend to the Garden, maintain it, and keep it. This is extremely important because it shows that there was always work. Work predated the Fall but became difficult afterward. There is always a purpose placed over our lives, even before we truly understand it.

And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

Genesis 2:18 (nkjv)

This is often the first scripture people read to stress that marriage is important. However, I don’t think this verse is just confined to marriage. Being the only one of your kind is lonely, isolating, and not fully reflective of the multitude of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1) Even God was not in full isolation. Aloneness not being good is interesting because God created many things and called them all good. We don’t see something being declared NOT good until this verse.

Another important distinction is the phrase “comparable”. The NRSV Bible says “I will make him a helper as his partner.” ESV says “…a helper fit for him”. NIV says “a helper suitable for him.” but COMPARABLE is really different and important.

The NKJV, compared to all of the major translations, is the only one that gives us a hint what all the others might mean by “suitable” and “fit”. It doesn’t mean identical but it also doesn’t mean lessor than. Adam’s mate is purposely chosen as to meet each other’s needs.

Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that wasits name.

So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. 

Genesis 2:19-20 (NKJV)

Adam was deep into his purpose at this time. He was a steward for all of creation for God and working through everything requested of him. I imagine Adam taking account of every creature, naming and noting their differences, but after he finished for the “day”, him going home alone. He pets his prehistoric pet and sits on his La-Z-boy stone as the “uniqueness” of his existence eats away at him. Even the dogs that he counted had others like them.

I take this section to be about the importance of exploring your purpose. You aren’t expected to complete it (He still didn’t name all the fish, etc.) but you expected to be well on your way. Your purpose is too large for you to finish by your lonesome. It’s by design that once we have reached the limits of what we could do alone, we are brought together with our comparable helper. We are supposed to develop relationship with God and understand our purpose before we reach that point.

It’s also important to note that God stated that it was not good for man to be alone before He created all the creatures on the earth then He created woman. I don’t believe good did not know that Eve would need to be made for Adam. He knew, but chose to wait because Adam needed to work first.

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

Genesis 2:21-23 (NKJV)

These verses might be the most important in my eyes for understanding the balance of relationships in Christ. Adam was given momentary rest while Eve was being prepared to be brought to him. Adam probably was preparing for Eve thinking she just might be there among the other creatures of the earth but she wasn’t there. He was let down from that and God told him to rest up. Then, while he was sleep, God created Eve. She was still a surprise even though he understood what he desired. You can’t fully compare for what God has planned for you, even if you know it in advance.

Woman was made from his rib. Particularly, why is the rib? The rib protects the heart and lungs, supports the body, and allows a person to breathe. The rib is a vital part of the human body. Eve was also formed from his essence mirroring God & the Word, and Jesus & the Body of Christ. They all are apart, dependent, and reflections of each other.

Typically, whenever we talk about courtship, it is connected to Proverbs 18:22

He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the Lord.

Proverbs 18:22 (NKJV)

We often only focus on the “He who finds a wife” part but I think we miss other equally important messages throughout the word about courtship.

Houses and wealth are inherited from parents,
    but a prudent wife is from the Lord.

Proverbs 19:14 (NIV)

God brings Eve to Adam. He could not find her on his own. He did not pick a random creature to be his helper. God gifted Eve to Adam. Anything from God could only be good. Eve was an SIGN of favor towards him. Eve was a blessing. Eve was good and perfect in her purpose and creation.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

James 1:17 (NKJV)

Most importantly, you would not receive favor from the Lord if you did not know the Lord. He wouldn’t gift someone that He views as precious and valuable to someone that wouldn’t value it properly (Matthew 7:6). God will not give a godly woman to an ungodly man and vice versa. You two will be unequally yolked and it will only hinder you on you path towards God’s purpose for you. Even though Adam “found” Eve, it was really God bringing Eve to him.

The beauty behind the entire love story before the fall is that God provided all of Adam’s needs: a purpose, food, shelter, and love. Adam could not do any of it without God. If we listen to the things God has already told us and hold on to those truths we are guaranteed a fulfilling life. When we step out of that and do it on our own, that’s when we get into trouble. Single people*** remember:

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)

He really meant ALL things.

Turn Your Brightness Up!

#BeMagnificent🔆

***I believe this entire post isn’t just for men but women also. (Galatians 3:28)

Tree Rooted by Living Waters

The day-to-day stress of life can sometimes be enough to crush boulders. Between finances, politics, loved ones, planning for the future, and reflecting on the past, the pressure of daily life is sickening. I know that I’ve had moments where sometimes I threw in the towel and said I’d try again tomorrow. Somewhere in the world, a college student is re-watching the Office with three papers due in the morning.

Continue reading “Tree Rooted by Living Waters”

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🔆

Waiting on Fruit to Grow

When I first TRULY started to give my life over to Christ. I felt like nothing was happening. I would feel great in church on Sunday but Sunday night, I would be tempted again. Monday morning, I would be depressed again. Tuesday morning, anxiety came back from a weekend away. By the following Saturday, I would be begging for the spirit of the Lord and revival on Sunday.

Everything seemed so difficult. The more I crept closer to the Lord, read my Bible, and tried to live life right, the more I felt like I was getting nowhere. Faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26), but we were saved ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ (Zechariah 4:6). I didn’t get it. I was working to get closer to the Lord but I still felt the void, empty, dry, and dark.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

James 1:2-4 (KJV)

We can use God as a drug sometimes. The same mentality we used before we came to Christ, we often use afterward. Before, when you had a rough day, you’d go to the bar, call up a “friend”, or head to your favorite restaurant. Now, you look for that void to be filled by something else. I just need another shot of God and everything will be okay. Sunday comes, you feel refilled, but then it fades away. God told me I was still doing it wrong.

We have to realize that we can’t expect use earthly mindsets to interact with a spiritual God. God doesn’t want us to only use Him like “break in case of emergency” with a Bible in a case. He wants us to interact with Him all the time. Good and bad. Happy and sad. My happiness faded away because it was dependent on what happened in my life. I had to let patience finish her work.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12 (NIV)

Something new happened when I stopped working trying to make things fit and let patience finish her work. Especially since a major theme in this year has been Working the Land, I’ve been reflecting on being the farmer, tree, and the land. What lessons can I get out of all three?

I figured out that I am the farmer when I need to pair work with my faith or hope (1 Corinthians 9:10-11). These are moments where God gives us a dream or vision, and we have to do something with it. We are the land when we are newly interacting with the gospel and deciding to give our lives to the Lord (Matthew 13:3-8; 18-23 ). Then we are the tree after we have decided to trust in God and received the gift of eternal life from Jesus Christ (Jeremiah 17:7-8). We shift between these roles continuously and finally everything clicked.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

Psalms 1:2-3 (NKJV)

The Bible talks about the Holy Spirit being the “Living Waters” (John 4:1-26) that Jesus would give after He was glorified. We are the tree bringing forth fruit in its season. A tree does not decide to drink water or sunshine occasionally or at a certain time of day, it’s constantly absorbing what it needs to survive. We aren’t supposed to only use God sometimes. He is supposed to become a constant part of our life.

I stopped trying to force it and make everything fall into place. I accepted my powerlessness in the world and somehow that gave me strength. I could plan, pray, and work towards something, and if it didn’t work, I accept that it is God’s will and something better is on the way. School, work, relationships, family, and more just started to line up. I just focused on co-existing with God and if it didn’t align, I didn’t partake. Everything got easier. Even prayer time had less pressure on me. All of a sudden, I was at peace. I was joyful. I didn’t mind waiting. Everything became easy.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering [patience], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)

What I didn’t realize is that the relief I wanted was the fruit of the Spirit that God promised. The thing about fruit is, it takes time to grow. Faith is like a mustard seed, starts off small but grows into a mighty tree. Joy, love, peace, kindness, etc., all started off small but the more time I spent in the Word, with my Father, and connecting with the Holy Spirit, the more I stopped calculating the pace of change. My fruit was growing right below my nose.

The more I focused on God’s love and the Father’s will in my life, the more my trust grew. The more my trust grew, the more I stopped worrying and stressing. I did my best everyday and things worked themselves out. My depression went away when I stopped blaming myself for the past. My anxiety vanished when I stopped worrying about the outcomes and started trusting God’s will in my life. Self-control became simple when I stopped putting so much weight on the decision and got comfortable with waiting. Waiting isn’t bad, its just another opportunity to see what surprises God can come up with next. All I had to do is let time do what it needed.

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)

The lesson I learned is that fruit takes time to grow and it is always growing. We don’t have to work for the seeds we are earning. Receive and they just grow.

Turn Your Brightness Up!

#BeMagnificent🔆

The Narrow Path

Sometimes you have to do something you’ve never done to get an outcome you’ve never had. What’s not working? What have you been doing? How badly you want things to change? If what you’ve been doing hasn’t improved anything, what does it say about you if you keep continuing down the same road? How badly do you want that future you dream about? Are you willing to change it all?

Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.

Matthew 12:33 (niv)

For years, I was dead on my feet. I was hollow inside because nothing seemed substantial or real. I was so afraid that one day, at any moment, a strong gust of wind would blow me away and no one would know the difference. I held on tight to people that paid me any attention. I dug deep into performance as my only redeemable quality. I clung to the fleeting moments of celebration or congratulatory fodder because that kept my fire burning. I was a dimly glowing ember in the midst of the storm called life. I couldn’t cling on to nothing forever.

I searched for people that valued me. I chased women. I comforted “friends” to make them feel good. I avoided moments of discomfort with hard truths. I numbed my pain with alcohol or whatever other things I could conjure up to make me forget about the void instead of taking a look in the mirror and facing it. I, like many of the people around me, was miserable. Every day was monotonous and listless. The love I sought never filled the whole in my chests. No matter what I tried to fill it with, nothing would change. I tried to feel real, tangible, and permanent did nothing. I continued being terrified of the wind.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV)

My turning point was looking towards God. For the first time, in as long as I could remember, I felt like I didn’t have to do everything on my own. I either trusted God to make it happen or I didn’t, but I got comfortable accepting the things that were out of my control. What seemed to be even more soothing was shifting God from this All-Powerful Being making rules in the sky, to a Father knowing more than I do, and trusting Him more than myself that He knows what’s best for me. The more I trusted, the more the Father showed me that it was alright trusting Him. The wounds on my heart healed. My desire to prove my existence ceased. The weight lifted.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30 (niv)

As I was shifting from just looking at my Lord to communicating with my Father. He initially started off by giving me relief. I received relief from the anxiety, depression, fear, chaotic thinking, and oppression. Then, patience, clarity, joy, peace, and love started to color how I looked at myself and then the world. I became hungry for more of God because if this is just the beginning, what more could He have in store for me?

But in this hunger came a cost. Every time I would go back to my old ways, I would feel the weigh of my old issues. I would get depressed after nights out drinking. I would feel anxious about interactions with women. I would be fearful for my livelihood looking at the success of others. My mind would run rampant as I shifted between all of these. God was giving me a choice. I could stay where I am and wallow in the emptiness I felt. Or continue to chase this zest and let him teach me about life.

By wisdom a house is built,
    and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with rare and beautiful treasures

Proverbs 24:3-4 (NIV)

My pastor said that he doesn’t believe in the saying about bringing a horse to water and not being able to make him drink. He said that it all depends on how thirsty you are. If you refuse to drink or eat, it’s because you still have or believe you still have choices.

I didn’t know how thirsty I was. This was the first time I had water in a long time and I didn’t want to go back to before. I was standing at a fork in the road. I had two choices. Go deeper and seek out the life that God wants me to have. Or, continue doing it my own way, by my own power, and reap the consequences.

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

Deuteronomy 30:19 (NIV)

I talked about how Joseph chose to stick close to God and avoided committing the same sins his ancestors committed in Sins of the Father but that leaves us focusing on the negatives of the pasts instead of the Blessings of the Future. The breaking the cycles of the past has relatively little to do with them or you, it has to do with the Father and making a choice. A choice to change and wait for the benefits of the future.

I have so many thoughts about what Jesus meant about the narrow gate but for now I’m going to cut this short before it goes on too long. Next week is going to be a hard share for me but I want to be vulnerable with you all. Next post is about my battle with Lust. Let me know what you think 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🔆