One Year Later

4 days after this writing, it will have been exactly a year since the last blog was posted. And my, oh my, what a year it has been. Now, before I post this quote, it is more unknown as to who wrote/said it, but it has been tagged to that of C.S. Lewis. But regardless of who said it or not, I find this quote to be so timely in times of reflections, especially if that reflection is longer than a month– This is the quote: Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different?” BOOM!

The last blog that was posted I believe I just got back from San Diego after two years… and now since that, how do I summarize one year later. It would seem as though, through all of the strikes, and gutters of life, that God by and through His sovereign grace is holding our hands and saying, don’t be afraid, I got you. <– To be honest, this is something one can only know when looking back. Now, mind you, I don’t look back because I miss those times, I am looking back, merely to see how far I have come. By the end of this writing, dear reader, you will see, oh, you will see. My homecoming wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be, it was quite the contrary. I fell into sin that I had not checked, and as we know, the more we let sin enter in, it truly does give birth to death. Therefore, the next six months of my life was flirting with death. Sure, there was a momentary pleasure that came from flirting with death, but friend, is it truly worth the risk of your soul for a moments pleasure, when you are offered an eternal satisfaction? After six months of this, my close friends, and mentors encouraged me to seek counseling, to seek professional help. By God’s grace, what the enemy meant for death, God meant for life… Through counseling, God truly opened my eyes to my own brokenness, which isn’t as bad it sounds, but also, I got to know way more about my self, my family, my extended family, my friends, my past, and how they are all interconnected. Sometimes there are things you can only learn in the precipice of life. We can be grateful after the fact, but it’s more challenging to be grateful when you’re going through it.

As I go through counseling, I’m also navigating a relation/friend/ship. It was challenging, to say the least. Had I not been in prayer, had I not been praying for her, and after what I had gone through six months prior, I did not want to re-taste the bitterness of death. So instead, I chose to eat from the bread of life, and drink the living water, and I chose right. By choosing the latter, I respected her, and loved her, by not doing with my body what I’m not willing to do with my life; And I’m all the better for it. I was faithful to my God for not taking something that wasn’t mine, but instead, gave what is, my heart. I believe I chose to cherish her for who she is, rather than see her as a sum of her body parts.

^^This was during and after the entirety of counseling, which was another six months. Imagine, coming home from a two-year long stint in San Diego, being introduced to great food, godly people, finding new and refreshing ways to channel worship, learning from some of the best theologians I have ever encountered, and then, a deep valley.

Yet, the one thing that remained constant, and the same, was the character of God. Through all the ebbs and flows of life, God remained the same. When everyone left, He was still there. Counseling is hard, because it forces you to look at why you did what you did, right? To get at the roots of all of your choices, and see how and from what, you are operating. I had a really patient, and good counselor. I’m beyond blessed, and thankful for our time together.

I finally leave Sundance for good– And decide, that whatever my next job will be, it will be a job that develops my character, hones my gifts, and abilities. I no longer wanted an odd job, or a job that didn’t bring the best out of me. So for a short while I thought that was caregiving, but through much prayer, I soon realized that caregiving wasn’t it. Through more prayer, and asking for wisdom, an opportunity to work for an after school program fell through. Mind you, this was in the middle of summer, and the best is still yet to come.

Although, I’ll leave my Cambodia mission trip for another blog post.

Now, we’re almost ready to move forward. Next will be part two of One Year Later: Cambodia.

 

I Exist to…

City Impacts slogan, or mission statement is:

We Exist to Intervene

 

I’ve been thinking and pondering on that statement for sometime now. Part of it is because in creating social media accounts, we get to put whatever we please for our profile. Which, in turn, begs the question, why do I exist? Or rather, what is my mission statement? And in turn, what is your mission statement? Why do you exist?

Why do I exist? I exist to inspire, I exist to be loved, and I exist to love. I have found that it is worthless and fleeting to try and fit in, therefore, I exist to be different and I exist to allow others to be different, and themselves as well. I exist to be weird, and to allow others to freely do the same, and be weird as well. I exist to spark passion, I exist to create, I exist to enjoy, I exist to live because I am created in His image. I exist to serve, obey, and follow a living God.

I’d encourage you to ask yourself the same question, and let me know in the comments. There’s a quote that says “see what the world has to offer”, or “wait for what the world has to offer”, and no, I want to change that and say “Offer for the world is waiting for, you.” You have something unique to offer the world, and someone somewhere is praying for you to be that offering to the world. You exist for a reason, you exist to invoke change, to invoke something that God has uniquely, and specifically wired you for. Hone in on that, tap into that, and once you know, find out how to share it to the world. We are waiting.

Intern No More

How do I say this?

From my las post, I said that there are 40 more days in the semester, now there are exactly 14 days until the semester is over, and 14 days before we are heading back up to S.F. for the last time. Today was the last day of being a children ministry intern. The kids don’t know, but I do, and it’s best that it’s kept that way. What they don’t know is that they have taught me more than seminary can about what it means to minister to children. As much as I am a minister, what children don’t know is that they are ministers as well, and they showed me that in these last 3 months. They’ve taught me to be bold, they’ve taught me to talk, to have imagination, to think, to be comfortably uncomfortable, to be God’s beloved child. Children can teach us so much, and I am so thankful I was able to be a part of their lives, and theirs mine.

What seems to not be taught, or noticed, or said, is how fast time flies. Next Sunday will be my last at Kairos, and Pastor Peter wants the congregation to pray over me as I leave. How do you say thank you to God? How is a thank you big enough to wrap everything you’re feeling, everything you’ve gone through, and speak it to a God who wanted this to happen? Who in His sovereignty, planned this ‘trip’ to it’s most minute detail. Physically, it may not look like I’ve changed, but there sure are some tread-marks on this soul. God has done a number on me, and this isn’t even the end yet. I can’t wait to write a reflection of these past two years.

 

Tell Me Yours

Well, I’m waiting for Itunes to update and so I’ll quickly blog. Guys, there are EXACTLY 40 days left in the semester, including today, and including weekends. WOW! And so it begins, the countdown. The hard thing for me is, or maybe, the tempting thing is to not be present. One can be present physically, but mentally, and emotionally check out. And that’s going to be the challenge moving forward. Being home is always great, always, but it gets to a point where it’s so comfortable to be home that it’s hard to break out of that mold, or routine, or comfortability. With that being said, I won’t write a reflectional piece of the last two years just yet, I’ll wait until it’s a bit more closer, and hits closer to home. After looking at my syllabi, I have papers, interviews, and projects to finish, not to mention a load of math HW that I have to catch up on. The danger of online hw, ey?

And just like that, March is over. My two breaks were spent well, and wisely, I think. The first break was great. I did a lot of catching up for friends, and mentors, and brought them up to speed with where I am, and where I think I’m headed, so obviously, that was good. It was an actual break, so I really didn’t have to worry about deadlines, or homework. What kept me busy, and what kept track of time for me was picking and dropping Randy off for classes, and I think that was a blessing in disguise. Being introduced to rock climbing opened up a whole new world. I absolutely love it! Also had two Chinese New Year dinners, one on each Saturday in which both were an extremely good time. It is always humbling being the one to say grace for dinner, and I pray that it never gets old, or pragmatic. It’s humbling because it is a privilege to come before God on behalf of my family members and ask God to bless the meal. Comes with the territory huh?

The second break was a bit more stressful, not really. I did have homework to do, and so that was on the back of my mind, as well as upcoming assignments after break. I did have a good time watching Netflix with Randy and mom. I enjoyed not having much to do, and I think it’s a bit of a blessing to be able to really just rest, and relax at home. Did some reading of my own, finally broke down the pile of books collected at Urbana and opened one of them. I also use the time I do have when I am home alone to pray. Personally, the stance of walking, pacing while praying focuses my mind and attention unto God so to be able to have that time is crucial, and will be crucial moving forward. Really looked forward to rock climbing on Saturday and it did not disappoint. Able to climb six times! It was a lot of fun with Kathy, and Randy. It’s a good break from the routine of things throughout the week and because it’s something different… for now, it’s good. What was disappointing was Easter weekend to be honest. I mean, I come back not just to be home, but for Good Friday service, as well as Resurrection Sunday, so to not go to the Good Friday service was a bit of a bummer, and then to not attend C-naz’s Easter musical is something else. There needs to be a tradition of some sorts for this weekend. This weekend is more than just two days off, but it’s the highest point, and most important days of the year for the Christian life. And so too really not hold it to a higher regard deserves repentance. I have always enjoyed the idea of the sunrise service, but never attended, and that needs to change. So moving forward, the attendance of the Good Friday service as well as the sunrise service are services I cannot afford to miss, as they are wonderful traditions to carry out, and to form in not just myself, but God-willing a tradition for a family one day.

Talked with Sharon yesterday, and we agreed that our breaks don’t really feel like breaks because this year ours are at different times this year. I don’t remember if last year ours landed on the same weeks, does anyone recall? Other than the fact we all didn’t/couldn’t hang out, they were really timely breaks, and I hope for you two (Sharon, and Kathy) that these breaks treat you well, and you both use the time wisely, being productive and purchasing the time you have well. Counting the days down now… 39 more days!

Sharon, won’t see you for two months, but within the last month, I know we will have our fair share of conversations over the phone, but will continue to keep you in prayer as the date to head to China draws near.

Until we all meet again, keep tilling the land God has graciously given you. Dare to live out the dream God has placed upon your heart- The corporate dream God has given us (The Church) is heaven on earth. Individually, that’s between you and God. But I say, dare to live that out. Dare to be who you are in the eyes of our Heavenly Father, nothing more, nothing less. What I’ve been learning about myself recently as I reflect on why I make certain decisions is the root of why I make them, and it comes down to two factors- Fear, or Love. If the decisions we make seem to be avoidance or out of being liked, or criticized, it’s fear. Let us by the Holy Spirit’s power working in us, choose love. Let us base our decisions not out of fear, but out of love.

Amen.

P.S. Have decided to write a ‘Tell Me Yours’. Don’t know when but its on the front of my mind. Coming soon!

 

Saying Goodbye

I’ve always been curious of why it’s so hard to say goodbye.  Whether on the phone, in person, text, you name it, it is always somewhat difficult and somewhat awkward.  In the new year, there are already a few times where I had to say goodbye and at times, were hard.  The first time i said goodbye in 2016 was to Orlando, a fellow brother in Christ whom I haven’t seen in quite some time.  It was a good time catching up with him as Urbana went on.  Debriefing on each others stories and walking through Urbana and asking him tough questions on seminars, bible studies, life, etc.  I remember quite well how we said goodbye to each other.  We encouraged one another, said thanks to each other and went about our own way (we all fell asleep).  Even then, I noticed when saying our “thank you’s” it was quite hard.  It was as if i didn’t want the night, experience, moment to end.

Then comes two goodbye’s a week later with double whammies.  David D and Greg G. Reflecting on the moment of Friday night now, David’s goodbye was tough for all of us.  Knowing we have a brother leaving to do some extraordinary things for Christ.  A brother with so much wisdom and knowledge, a brother with such fire and passion for Christ that we hate to see him go and when we were all there, near the entrance of New Life circled around, saying our goodbye’s with our gifts in one hand and our hand having a hug around him, it was awkward, but necessary.  Our gifts hitting his backside, not thinking we should’ve put our bags down.  Weird.  After our hugs, knowing that a moment of awkward silence is coming once were all finished.  Weird.

Greg Gee’s goodbye was extremely tough.  It was extremely tough because it carried in to two days.  That Saturday night was the first goodbye of two.  One from his closest friends, and the other from his blood brother.  It’s easy for Greg to get choked up, and i think him getting choked up, gets me choked up as well.  And I hardly get choked up.  Saying goodbye again, was hard.  This one was not easy but again, necessary.  Sometimes, we know these experiences all to well and honestly, I’m not going to go in depth about it.

Then, anticipating David E and Steven’s goodbye.  Mmmm.. a tough one both of those will be.  A different blog for another time..

In concluding, saying goodbye is hard, and will always be hard.  When truly saying goodbye, the moments that stuck with us will stick with us and are formed into flashbacks of things that were.  It is when truly saying goodbye we think of that person of what we’ll miss about them.  Saying goodbye should be awkward because it was one thing we do not want to get good at.  It is in those awkwardness and toughness of saying goodbye that makes saying goodbye something truly special.  It makes us realize that friendships are not forgotten and that the word ‘friend’ has more meaning than a ‘like’ or touch of a button.  Usually, the goodbyes that are the most awkward and toughest are the ones that show the faithfulness of Jesus Christ that we will see our loved ones again whether in this life or the next.  May we never get good at saying goodbye.

Soon and very soon, we will see each other again.  Soon and vey soon, we will be with Him, together.  Your’s truly.

Jesus is our Driver

This is a response to the devotion from “He reads Truth.” The question is: What are the greatest risks you’ve taken this year? Where have you taken a step of faith, unsure of what would follow?

It’s always a struggle to remember the year… It’s gone by so fast, so quick, yet it’s always 365 days. I would say one of the risks is the internship. But the greatest risk? Nothing really stands out in terms of greatest, but they’re all little risks that amount to doing something great, being great. I wouldn’t necessarily call having multiple mentors as taking a risk, nor interning at C-naz. I would say the greatest risk I’ve taken this year is taking risks! Whether it was interning, choosing different mentors, meeting with mentors, the thing with Derek, Kairos, leading a small group, choosing to be more involved at Kairos, choosing to not date- all of these are risks. Add to that I believe that these are also steps of faith. Yet the biggest step of faith would be talking to Derek. Definitely unsure of what would follow and how he’d react. And also taking steps of faith with family, choosing to initiate conversations, praying for the food, emailing, and being honest and truthful.

 

God & The Tandem Bike

I was reading this story on this couple named Joey and Rory Fleek. Joey (the wife) has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, but the most inspiring part of her story is how she has no fear of death. Joey’s now in hospice care at her childhood home in Indiana where she’s surrounded by nothing but love, hugs, and hope for a beautiful reunion in heaven with her family one day.

Anyways, Rory shared about this short 3 minute sermon he heard from a pastor once, and it’s stayed with him forever. I listened to it and read it and it’s really good, here it is for y’all if you ever read this….

A Tandem Ride With God

I used to think of God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there, sort of like a president. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I didn’t really know Him.

But later on, when I met Jesus, it seemed as though life was rather like a bike, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Jesus was in the back helping me pedal. I didn’t know just when it was He suggested we change, but life has not been the same since I took the back-seat to Jesus, my Lord. He makes life exciting. When I had control, I thought I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable. It was the shortest distance between two points.

But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places and at break-through speeds; it was all I could do to hang on! Even though it often looked like madness, He said, “Pedal!” I was worried and anxious and asked, “Where are you taking me?” He laughed and didn’t answer and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into adventure. And when I’d say, “I’m scared”, He’d lean back and touch my hand.

He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance and joy. They gave me their gifts to take on my journey, our journey, my Lord’s and mine. And we were off again. He said, “Give the gifts away; they’re extra baggage, too much weight.” So I did, to the people we met, and I found in giving I received, and still our burden was light.

I did not trust Him, at first, in control of my life. I thought He’d wreck it, but He knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, jump to clear high rocks, fly to short and scary passages. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I’m beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus.

And when I’m sure I just can’t do any more, He just smiles and says… “Pedal.”

(Author unknown)

Continue trusting in Him and pedal, pedal pedal!!

Read their story when you can, I tell you this is truly an inspiring love story, a story of faith, love, and trust in our Heavenly Father.

http://thislifeilive.com/home-of-the-brave-joey-courage-and-cancer/

All Downhill From Here!

Welp!!! My presentations are over and now it’s all down here from here. It’s weird how there is a universal disdain towards group projects. You never hear anyone say “Oh, group projects, yay!” It’s just something we do not look forward to. But I really enjoyed these presentations this morning (ironically) (well, maybe not) (that’s what the prayers were for). I believe the prayers were a huuuuuuge factor. I not only asked you three, but I also asked my small group, and within seconds, people were on it. Even with y’all, y’all were on it. So I do believe your prayers as well as my small groups prayers lifted me and carried me and allowed me to do well. I honestly want to jump for joy because these presentations were my goliath. Now I’m cruising ’till Thanksgiving break (relatively).

One last paragraph before I go. Let’s see… Anything that I’ve been learning recently that I can share… I guess it would be the idea of a missional church. We’re doing presentations on books that deal with leadership and missions. Missions in the sense of being on mission as opposed to going on missions trips. The idea that Christendom is dead, and now we as the Church need to become mission minded, or missional. The Church needs to become incarnational, apostolic, and messianic. No longer are people coming in to the church, but the church needs to engage culture. It’s not about gentrification in a sense were we inhabit an area, see who stays and then kick everyone out, but we need to seep into the culture we are infiltrating, become an incarnate of the culture and envelope them through the love of Jesus. We must be Jesus to the world. The culture is moving along, the church is hanging back, and so the question facing every Christian today is: “What are you going to do?” To the Church: “What are we going to do?” Heaven is real, Hell is hot, and eternity is a long time.

Miss y’all and love y’all.

Grace and Peace

2 Weeks to Go

Wow! A week has gone by. Literally last week I sent the last blog, and now it’s two weeks to go!

It’s been getting tough, to be honest. I feel like at around this time, we (kathy, randy, and I) are among zombies. Students who stay up late, cramming, and then have real bad bags under their eyes, it’s zombies! Sleep according to students is underrated and pretty much not in our vocabulary. So while my schedule isn’t as tough as a science major, or nursing major ( in which I highly respect), I am feeling the want to go home, chill, and watch a really good movie.

Last night I went out to homeless ministry with Kairos. They do homeless ministry every Monday, and so last night, our small group linked up with the homeless ministry team to minister to the homeless. You know, I was reflecting on this before sleeping and God in His wisdom, and sovereignty, saw fit for me to be prepared for ministry by living in S.F. It’s crazy because while S.D. has it’s own dynamic, it’s really the same sh*t, just a different toilet. I’m used to homeless on the streets, I’m use to people on the streets doing drugs, I’m used to the grit, and rawness that comes from being out on the streets because that’s what I saw and witnessed, and experienced in S.F. The challenge is bringing that up to the team in Kairos and how I’ve witnessed that already so it’s nothing new, but to not sound like I’m boasting. A time will come. But yeah, I was actually more encouraged by the people I was serving with.

Which leads me to an idea, or a vision. What if we did something like that during winter break? Hand out coats, blankets, etc to the homeless in S.F.? Just an idea.

Grace and Peace

3 weeks to go

Hey Fam,

So as the title says, three weeks today I’ll be packing up and coming home by nightfall. In the meantime I have a couple of presentations to do, paper to write, small group to lead, bible to open, and above all a God to talk with. My days and weeks have been productive and eventful. So I am co-leading a small group out at PLNU for the students who attend Kairos who are from PLNU… This sentence is weird, I don’t know how to really structure or word it. But students who attend Kairos from PLNU are in this small group. It’s on Fridays from 8-9 and it’s about 5 in all including the two leaders. Sundays I am a greeter/usher! It’s called the in-reach team and we basically greet those coming in the door, give them name tags, and make them feel welcomed. So that’s awesome; started last Sunday and I’ll be doing it again this Sunday as well and then on Sundays at three is flag football practice. I play wide receiver and we’re going through routes and starting scrimmages next week. I say these things because maybe when you guys look at the time, you guys can be reminded “Oh it’s so and so time, this is what Greg is doing”, that’s all. Giving you guys a mental note, or a sort of visual into how my days look like.

My closest friends down here are girls. I think it has a large part to do with the fact that I can actually talk to them, and have a decent conversation with them. And so for the past couple of nights give and take, I have been having some real nice deep, meaningful conversations.

Oh yeah! I have some of my small group going to the BE concert on Nov 15th! I asked some of my friends from PLNU and their going, so it’s going to be a great time! Different cultures crossing and what a parable that is to what Heaven will be like. Wish y’all were there/here, but like the title says, three weeks to go!

Grace and Peace