Brazil

Got back from Brazil this week. Our church does a short term mission trip there every year. It was my first year to go and it was incredible. I’m still trying to process everything.

It was so cool to see how God answered prayers while we were there. We even got to see some of the fruits of our work while we were there. There were some rough times for me personally but overall it was just wonderful and I can’t wait to go back next year.

I might write something more detailed about the trip at some point in the future. I’ll have to plan it out.

A Dream

I watched from afar the storm coming down on the city. Giant waves crashed into the skyscrapers in the middle of the city. The City became flooded. I watched from the other side of the bridge. Half demolished buildings surrounded me. It was dark. The streetlights had been smashed to pieces. The posts holding the bridge tore apart and crumbled into the flood waters. I watched as they shattered to pieces. Wave after wave the city was being destroyed. The wind blew apart the skyscrapers and shattered windows. The waves. The giant waves. Under the darkened skies.

Then the dragons came. Giant beasts. Shimmering midnight blue scales. Their nostrils flaring. Their monstrous veinous wings flapping slowly. Their thunderous hind legs and giant claws clutched the demolished buildings. They descended onto the shards as the buildings crumbled under their great weight. I watched in horror hoping they wouldn’t see me. So small in the dark.

The men came in on horses wielding their elegant swords. They entered the abandoned buildings. Searching for any life. Battling the fires. Then a dragon came upon me. It’s yellow eyes looking into me. It slowly approached. Then suddenly it lunged at me as I jumped back. It got a hold of my arm. And just as suddenly a man on horseback wielding his sword came and struck the dragon in his side. They battled. Up and down the broken tower. They fought. So strong this man. And finally. The dragon was defeated. The man came to me and wrapped me in his arms and comforted me. He was like an angel. His bright blue eyes. His warm smile. He held me until the storm passed.

Tomorrow

Trying to think about today. You know what, forget today (it was a good day) but let me move on to tomorrow. Tomorrow’s going to be a long one.

I start work at 6AM. It’s my first shift back to work after taking leave for my mental health. I’m both excited and nervous about it. Mostly It’s going to be good. And I enjoy working there. I’m looking forward to my coworkers. It will be fun.

I’ll have a few hours after work to get some coffee and brunch before I have my psychiatrist appointment. I’m looking forward to that as well. I need to talk to her about the medicines making me put on so much weight and making it ridiculously difficult to lose any of it. Plus some work related things. Mainly I just want to be off my meds so I can get down to a reasonable weight. Right now as it stands I’m officially obese. I’m way past the overweight category. I’m smack in the middle of certifiably obese. I do not like that word and I do not like what it means. It puts me at risk for all kinds of preventable diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, etc. I don’t want those things. I want to lose fat and build muscle. I want to be healthy! Ok enough of that rant.

After the doctor’s appointment I’m going to workout, and straight from there I have my lecture and group session at church. I’m supposed to have written a Psalm of my own.

It’s a jam packed day. The only problem I have with it is how early I have to get up and leave the house. I wonder if I’ll have time to do part of my Bible study in the morning. I better make time for it. That’s super important and will set me up for a good day. I’ll try that.

In Summary:
Work. Study. Doctor. Read. Workout. Group.

“Jesus & a Latte: Evangelism Over Coffee”

Two cups of coffee. Two lattes actually. Two rose flavored lattes to be specific. So delicious. I mean, just yum. So good. I highly recommend a rose latte or two.

Today was a rather weird but good day. Not sure what kind of head space I’ve been in all day. I’ve been feeling pretty good lately. But while I was on my way to meet a friend I suddenly started feeling pretty down. I was thinking about some past relationships, and it just really bummed me out. Got me into thought patterns about not being good enough. This is pretty typical of me, and I don’t know where it stems from. Meeting up with my friend was good though. We had a good conversation about some of this. We reminded each other about how much God loves us.

Rose Latte. It was sweet, but not too sweet. Definitely flowery. I had asked the barista if they still had the Lavender Latte. He picked up the lavender syrup to show me that they always have it. As he was putting it back I noticed a bottle that had pink petals on it, so I asked, “Is that rose syrup?” Sure enough. He looked at me strange as if a rose latte was weird. But I am here to tell you that a Rose Latte is like, the best thing, ever. Now I have to go buy rose flavored syrup to make rose lattes at home. I’ll have to separate it into smaller bottles to take with me whenever I go to a coffee shop, and spike up my latte with rose syrup.

It’s not simply that Jesus loves me. He does. But what that means is that he wants to care for me. He wants me to spend my time with him. He wants to see me succeed in the plans that he has laid out for me. He calls me beautiful. He calls me his own. He calls me worthy. He gives me grace when I mess up. He loves me even when I forget about him. He pursues me because he needs me. He gave his life for me. He says what he means and means what he says. He listens when I’m sad. He comforts me when I cry. He sings with me when I’m joyful. He’s happy when I’m happy. Because he loves me.

Rose Latte. Highly recommended. The latte chose me. It was meant to be. Jesus. Highly recommended. Jesus chose me. It was meant to be. Jesus and a latte do not equal each other. But maybe that should be the name of my book, “Jesus & a Latte: Evangelism Over Coffee.”

 

My Take on Judges Ch. 2

“And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger.” (Judges 2:12)

The book of Judges goes through several stories after the rule of Joshua during which there was peace and obedience to the Lord. During this time the Israelites had forgotten all the things that the Lord had done during Joshua’s time. They were a generation that was corrupted by the world around them. They served other gods above the Lord.

“Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.” (Judges 2:18-19)

These Israelites literally served other gods. Idol worship existed in every household at that time. Although the god of the Israelites asked them to follow only him, they went their own way and basically tried to assimilate into this local culture and it brought them destruction.

In our world today idol worship means a very different thing. In our world we worship wealth, prosperity, power, relationships, careers, sports teams, politics, hobbies, comfort, all these things. You could add a multitude to this list of things that we put above god.

Now, there’s this story in the New Testament about a Samaritan woman at a well that meets Jesus. (See John 4:16-26). They chat a bit. They talk about worship. Jesus says to the woman, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (John 4:22-23)

The Old Testament God was angry. “Whenever [the Israelites] marched out, the hand of the LORD was against them for harm, as the LORD had warned, and as the LORD had sworn to them. And they were in terrible distress” (Judges 2:14). But god keeps giving them rulers (judges) to bring them back to himself. He gives them chances to be redeemed and forgiven.

In the story of Jesus and the Samaritan, he is telling her that worship should be directed at the Father and no one or thing else. Everything else is a false idol when we put them above god. They can be tools to bring others to god, but they cannot replace god. Plus these idols do not have the ability to forgive our sins the way Christ can. Ultimately we are all ruled and judged by Christ himself and he is good, forgiving, and gracious. The story of the Israelites and the Judges is what we deserve when we are disobedient. When Christ died, he was sacrificed with all of our sins on him so that we no longer bear them. We are free from the wrath that the LORD would have put upon us. Because he has already done it by sacrificing his son.

Hope

What do you hope for? Where does your hope lie? What are your hopes and dreams? So I start to think about what I’ve been “hoping” for lately. I’ve been hoping for peace. For clarity. For relief of stress. I’ve been hoping that going back to work will go smoothly. I’ve been hoping that I don’t get tired and drained and that I won’t spiral down again. My hope in the world is dwindling and I hope that it gets better again before it gets even worse.  I have all these things that I’m hoping for. But it’s simply semantics. These are desires, not hopes.

Well then how do you define hope?

For a follower of Christ, hope is not what you desire to achieve or have things for yourself or anyone else. Hope is our relationship with Christ himself. We hope for our meeting with Christ. Our hope lies in relating with Christ. And we dream to be united with Christ.

“For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:24-25

We hope for our relationship with Christ. We hope that we can make it stronger. We can spend more time with him reading his word, talking to him in prayer. As a community we can gather to read the word and reflect and eagerly get to prayer and pray for each other in our hopes in Christ. We can hope with joy. We hope for Jesus’ presence.

Hope is the confidence we have in Christ that he will do his will. He has given each of us gifts of the Spirit so that we can work together to build up his body to do his will.

At Least I’m Not on the Couch

When I was feeling so low yesterday instead of wallowing in it, I worked out. Today after having slept most of the day, I worked out. What a difference it makes. Huge difference. Even if I was coaxed into it by my mother, it was still my decision that I went. Yesterday in fact I ended up having an amazing workout. I did the workout exactly as prescribed. Today was more difficult. But still, me and the other guy doing the workout said to each other, “at least we’re not on the couch!” That was super encouraging. It may not have been my best performance from a workout, but at least I wasn’t sitting around at home on the couch doing nothing good for myself.

More than just having gotten off the couch, working out is a huge boost in self-esteem. Every single time I feel a great sense of accomplishment having completed a workout. It’s incredible. It gets your blood moving and flowing throughout your body. The blood circulation gets the oxygen moving all around, replenishing and nourishing every part of you. Most importantly it feeds oxygen to your brain, helping to heal it and improve your mood stabilization. Just what I need!

I’m so glad I worked out these last two days. I needed it so badly. And I will go back again tomorrow!