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7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4

My wife and I enjoyed the gift and blessing of fellowship tonight. Instead of going out to the bar or to a restaurant to watch the Orange Bowl (go Hokies!) we invested our night indoors, having a delicious black bean and vegetable soup, watching some entertaining The Office, and using the later hours to do some cleaning around our home.

As part of my wife’s habits while she cleans or folds the laundry, she likes to listen to Pastor Mark Driscoll (from Mars Hill Church, Seattle) through the podcasts available on iTunes. I myself used to spend much time listening and watching Driscoll and Mars Hill sermons online; however, I can’t say that my passion for sermon-listening has remained the same as in previous years.

Tonight, after defeating a boss (a very tough enemy in a video game), I went to our bed room and joined my wife in listening to Mark Driscoll preach. His topic was “Suffering to Serve” preaching out of 1 Peter 4 and putting special emphasis on the issue of idolatry, not just in the world outside the church, but also among Christians. As times before, I had no way out and was forced to admit to myself, once again, that I am an idolater.

——

Before letting the reader come to the conclusion that video games are my idol, I must stop and say that even though video games are very entertaining and fun, I have come to control the past time instead of allowing the past time to control me. Video games, God willing, are not a major issue in my walk with God.

But it is always hard to hear about idolatry because after conviction–yes God, I am a sinner and I have idols–it is always the tough challenge of trying to understand where is the line between idolatry and “fun,” or a past-time.

Pastor Driscoll focused on this issue by challenging the Christian to ask ourselves: what is it that you run to when you are hurt? broken? What is it that you desire the most when you fall and are fragile? What do you desire when you need something but you don’t desire God?

I can’t honestly say that I have all my major idols figured out. I am sure that for the rest of my life God will continue to shine light and reveal more and more areas of my soul and mind where I am not putting him first. But there are some idols that I do allow to take worship away from God and the Lord Jesus: my emotions, entertainment (from tv shows to football games), and, incredibly, my own health.

God has been working on the last one above for a while. I have to admit, to God and whoever my audience may be, that in times on anxiety and personal turmoil, a main thing I turn to and focus all my attention to is my health and how out-of-shape I am or feel to be. It is my prayer that God continues to attack and one days fully destroys this idol in my life, whenever He feels the right time comes, and that I may be set free from it completely.

——

I don’t really have a certain purpose for this post. Listening to Pastor Mark Driscoll is hard because God speaks through him and conviction is almost always certain to happen. At the same time I am thankful because even though I am surrounded by things the Enemy wants to use for my destruction, I still know God sits next to me (always) ready to lend a helping hand and ready to hug me when I may need His comfort and hope the most.

It may seem ironic, but it is good to be reminded of my sin. It is healthy to be reminded of my struggles and of my shortcomings. When the Holy Spirit shines light unto my evil, it is a reminder that I really needed Jesus to die on that cross for me and be resurrected on the third day. It is a constant reminding that God is not done with me and that I need Him now more than ever.

May you be blessed. If I may ask anything, I ask for your prayers: please pray that God may grant me peace of mind and spirit and patience in the weeks and months to come. Above all, pray that the love of God may continue to grow and abound more and more in my life. Amen.

Be Blessed.

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Save me, I’m lost
Oh Lord I’ve been waiting for you
I’ll pay any cost
To save me from being confused
Wait, I’m wrong
I can’t do better than this
I’ll pay any cost
Save me from being confused.  (Show me what I’m looking for
by Carolina Liar)

Confession.

For the Christian every day, every moment, every act of confession and redemption is a new beginning. We are still humans prone to error and mistakes called sin. Therefore, it is an essential aspect of our daily living the humbling act of confession.

For me this comes in the weirdest moments most of the time. I’ll be driving down the road and then see a homeless man asking for money, food, or just some sort of help. The Holy Spirit will move me to compassion and if I have something, or anything, I will give it to the homeless man (after all, only God can judge what they end up using for the blessings they receive). However, at the same time I will be move to recognize my own blessings in life and also my sin, the sins that we ignore and let the time go by without bringing them before the throne of the God King.

Unfortunately that was not the case in the last few months for me. The crazy thing is that even though I post about a lot of personal things in this blog, there are also a lot of things that I am still fighting and struggling with in life–there is constantly a struggle within me between the Holy Spirit and the attacks of life and world trying to demolish the throne of God in me. Nevertheless, there are periods of life in which I am blinded in one eye and I feel as if I go from day to day in defeat because my sins seem so overwhelming–the image of a homeless Elijah at the street corner is not enough to move me.

Unrepentant.

Lately this has been the case. I have been sinful, rebellious to the God King, I have cursed extensively, and I have lost a lot of my spiritual disciplines. Only God knows why He allows us to fall (maybe it is to show us a lesson or aspect of life). But in the end, the worst thing is knowing from day to day that you need to come before the Lord and confess all the evil within you, but you feel so ashamed of your sin that you are embarrassed to come before the throne of Christ in repentance–so you end up doing nothing about it.

In a way my rest from blogging was because of this. I felt too conflicted inside and too chaotic in my spirit to feel comfortable trying to edify others through writing. I have also felt as if physical life attempts to suffocate all my time and it seems as if I go from day to day trying to catch up (yes, even in the summer). Father God, save me from feeling and living like this. Show me what I am looking for!

I have sought counsel, advice, wisdom, the love of my brothers in the Kingdom of God. But it feels like, to an extent, our spiritual self (and in response our body) gets comfortable to the misery and abuse of life in rebellion. The day I realized I had accepted the brutality of an undisciplined and running-from-Jesus life was the day that I cried…forever.

I still don’t have it all together. I don’t think I ever will fully have it all together. It’s a fight and struggle but the truth is that every day, every day we have to acknowledge that in some way we are still broken inside–and we need redemption: again.

In the end, I can declare today that I feel the Holy Spirit in my life today. I pray tomorrow I feel His presence even more than today: I really do. One crazy thing of life in the arms of the Savior King is that when we trust our life unto Him, all other aspects of life become so much smaller compared to all that He is.

In Christ, life doesn’t get easier, but we realize how much smaller all other aspects of life really are compared to all He is and all He as to offer.

In Christ, be blessed.

“Waking up, waking up
In the dark
I can feel you in my sleep
In your arms I feel you breathe into me
Forever hold this heart that I will give to you
Forever I will live for you”

Awake and Alive by Skillet

Recommended Gospel-centered songs that I have been blessed by recently:

Let it Fade by Jeremy Camp

New Creation and Carried to the Table by Leeland

Healing Begins by Tenth Avenue North

Indelible Grace (all their music is great)

Revelation Song by Phillips, Craig & Dean

Lead me to the Cross and Saviour King by Hillsong Music

Awake and Alive by SKILLET

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5: 16-19

Watching the news and such.

Yesterday I turned on the TV. The TV was set on CNN (or one of those cable news channels). Upon this realization I turned off the TV. I just wasn’t in the mood. Later that day, walking by one of those newspaper containers (I have no idea what they are called) I decided to grab the day’s newspaper. I made a mistake. Ten minutes into browsing the different stories and topics discussed in that issue I lost hope and threw it away (It’s okay. It was a recycling bin).

Finally, coming back towards downtown Raleigh after my first training session at work, I turned on the radio in the car–may last hope at making an interaction with the cosmopolitan world. The radio was set to NPR (a radio station which I listen to and respect) but I wasn’t in the mood, so I switched it over to G105 (mainstream music radio) but it was another mistake. I was tired of the world. I was frustrated and I didn’t know a way out.

Life: Take Two.

I feel like a lot of life is like this but on bigger and much more costly proportions. We go from place to place, phase to phase, opportunity to opportunity attempting to engage, interact, push through, be enlightened, and be illuminated. Of course, above and beyond all these reasons behind our pursuit, we desire purpose, destiny, or the mainstream way of stating this: we want to make a difference.

So in a way it’s no different from switching on the TV, and then turning it off. Switching on the radio and turning it off. Opening in the newspaper and recycling it ten minutes later. We move from moment to moment, experience to experience, looking for some sort of great fulfillment. When we look at our American lives (since I am an American and I live in the continental U.S. of A.) we realize that the marketing experts know this is exactly what the human soul is looking for and what our greatest desire  is: that one experience that will give us purpose, show us our destiny, and lead us toward great bliss and a life-long ecstasy due to the fact we are doing what the gods (not really but sure) destined us to do.

I can go on forever about examples of this in our culture; however, one example (which currently plays on TV) is pretty close to the top.

As kids we are sent to summer camps during the time off school in order to (1) do something, (2) learn something, (3) meet people, and (4) hopefully apply some of what we learn to our regular lives. Whether it may be canoeing, making a bonfire, learning how to do a ropes course, learning to interact with people, or shooting bows and arrows (plus playing some awesome kickball) summer camps help us, as children, begin to fulfill this need for experience and the desire for bliss (a sort of pleasure) that we are predispose to by our very nature.

A much less innocent and much more controversial perspective on this is presented by a new commercial on TV titled Camp Vegas. In this commercial, a group of people are sitting with notes and papers on the table in front of them as they review a number of candidates or applicants for camp counselor positions. In the end, after reviewing a number of applicants, they decide to choose another group of people not shown before. The camera turns and shows a group of good-looking young men and women in bathing suits.

After this, the scenery completely changes and the setting becomes Las Vegas, with is casinos, hotels, clubs, and endless amounts of possibilities and forms entertainment. Endless possibilities of joy and bliss–after all, what else could life be about?

Sure. The type of experiences and life journeys presented in the Camp Vegas commercial campaign are not the same as those presented in summer camp brochures by your local YMCA and Parks and Recreation department. Actually, I rather have you send your kids to summer camps (which are really good life experiences) than to Camp Vegas. I also don’t want you to think I am criticizing or condemning the experiences or the fun one may find in regular summer camps or Camp Vegas. What I trying to shine light upon is the human condition.

The Human Condition Revisited.

The human condition? A may not be 1,000 years old and be a wise sage who you should go to in order to understand life’s mysteries. I claim no more than a pursuit of wisdom and eternal truth is our socio-universal human experience. However, I believe there is a human condition that applies and expands not only in our Western thought and civilization, but one that also expands throughout our existence in this world and planet and applies to all human civilizations of the present, the past, and even the future.  This universal human condition cannot be avoided, for it is found deep within our nature and being. It cannot be escaped, at least not through conventional means (or anything you can buy through infomercials). It is corroborated by all human lifestyles, possibilities, potential decisions, and human society. The human condition is such: that our pursuit for purpose, pleasure, and fulfillment comes from a lacking of an essential part of what we were meant to be and how we were meant to exist. The present condition is the result of a wrong decision made in the past, back when time was young, and that, due to our hereditary nature, has carried on from person to person up until now–and will continue for generations to come. It was the result of pride and it’s result was sin. However, even though sin came to be, the visible outcome of it that we see in the world today is that we, as humans, go from place to place, from moment to moment, from experience to experience (like spiritual nomads) looking for a solution to this condition: looking for a cure.

Nomads.

Yes, we look for a physical cure to something that is spiritual. We look for a religious cure for something that is beyond this world. We are looking for a rational cure for something that is divine. We have been searching, without rest, for an answer to the questions and unanswered dilemmas that plague our existence.

As nomads we live our lives looking for the final piece to the puzzle. An excellent piece of evidence of this is the very fact that our movies, novels, comic books, and epic stories depict this very aspect of the human condition. However, even the great fictions and works of man conclude unfinished, because at the end of every story we must ask ourselves the question: what about tomorrow? What about the unknown and unexpected?

Yet they speak truth. The great philosophers, thinkers, writers, and heroes of the world did speak truth in humanity’s search for something: something that had either been lost or not yet found. But they were far from the answer, even though in other ways very close.

At the Garden of Eden a relationship was broken. God, who found it well to make us and place us at the head of all created creatures, had in the very beginning a relationship with man and woman. They existed in harmony with their maker and live in a relationship of Maker and Creature, Father and Children, God and Human, Eternal Lord and the stewards of creation. However, we were lied to and misled by other forces, forces not existing in order to honor the Maker of All. This evil spirit (Satan), in no way or shape a god or close to being a god, misled mankind by stating that in sinning, we would be like God–not realizing mankind had already been made in the image of the Creator.

Martin Luther and John Calvin, both leaders and theologians in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, agreed that something had been lost and that something had been changed when our forefathers sinned and turned their lives away from God. Even though this is a topic for a whole other post (actually more like a whole book), I do believe that part of what change at the fall was our status quo in our relationship with God. We became isolated in our walk and in our lives. Humanity lost an essential part to its existence and to its fulfillment. At the Fall of Mankind, falling short of the glory of God, we lost our relationship to God, a relationship so pure, loving, wonderful, and awesome that it’s very experience would overwhelm us beyond understanding.

The Ministry of Reconciliation.

Isn’t this what Jesus states in the Sermon on the Mount? Acquire treasures not on Earth where the rust and moth destroy but in Heaven where they cannot be touched by the effects of time? Didn’t He say to not worry about today for your Father who is in Heaven will provide if we believe and trust Him with our very life? Didn’t Jesus say that He was the way, the truth, and the life? The truth, yes the truth, is that as humans we were meant to find true joy, bliss, pleasure, and fulfillment in the presence of the glory of God. Our very relationship with God, founded upon the fact that He LOVES us, was so overwhelming at the beginning of mankind’s existence, that it made us unaware, or at least unashamed, of walking around naked. God’s love was (and is) so great that it overwhelmed any earthly state and condition. Adam and Eve were not ashamed of nakedness because God’s Love for them was their only necessary and essential identity and need. They needed nothing else. They were in harmony with one another and their Father God.

But at the fall we lost that relationship. At the Fall we, first of all, became ashamed of nakedness due to the fact that God’s passion for us was no longer what defined us and gave us value. We became overwhelmed by other things and aspects of life to the extent that the first thing Adam and Eve did was look for something to cover themselves with (and now we have department stores and outfitters…found at super malls near you).

However, at the cross Jesus offers us the opportunity for reconciliation. Like it states in 2 Corinthians 5, we are to no longer approach one another and the world from the world’s misled and faulty perspective. We are to work towards the world’s, people’s, reconciliation with the Father through Christ: the same way that as Christians we are transformed and reconciled to the God, through the great and sufficient atonement paid for by Jesus Christ at the cross.

Not only are we transformed into a new creation able to honor and glorify God with our lives. Because we know true fulfillment and our true purpose is with God, we are given the ministry of Reconciliation: our charge is to carry the commission given to us, believers, as we persevere in our own lives and in reconciling others to God through the truth of the Gospel.

Our Charge.

The charge given to the Body of Christ, the universal church of all the believers, is to continue the work started in us by God by pursuing that work in others. We are not to look at the rest of the world in contempt, simply because we have found the true solution to the essential question the world struggles with every day. In the words of the Christian pastor and social leader Dietrich Bonhoeffer “we must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer…God himself did not despise humanity, but became man for men’s sake” (Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison). We are, instead of contempt, to feel compassion for the world as God felt compassion for humanity. We are to live lives that honor God and depict the love of Christ to our fellow men and women who are still looking for a way to fulfillment and purpose, because the truth is that even those who think that they have found true purpose and destiny in success or some earthly pursuit, don’t realize that all earthly treasures are doomed to rust and to be plague by moth.

Ours is the ministry of reconciliation, for great is the harvest and few the workers out on the field.

—–

In conclusion, Jesus, thank you for your mercy and compassion which is new every morning. Thank you for your patience as this sinner struggles to walk in your ways and in honor of Your Name–the name above every name. Father God, Jesus: Son of God, and Holy Spirit, I am overwhelmed by a truth that convicts me and humbles me every day of my life. I am also honored and in return I worship you with prayers, songs, and godly thoughts, when I remember an essential fact of my existence. Lord, this truth is the fact that You transformed me.

Blessings.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

——

“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent,[c] nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

The Gospel of John 1:1-5 and 10-13

Looking for Superman.


I love super heroes. No, seriously, I love super heroes. If I trust you enough, I might even let you take a look at my decent comic book collection I have back home. It isn’t much but it proves a point: I love super heroes. From a young age I became fixated with power, especially power used for the greater good, like that of super heroes. I became a fan of Iron Man, Superman, Batman, and Captain America, among many others. I simply loved the concept of a supernatural being able to restore justice and peace to the world…crazy fictional but fun stuff. Right? Right?

But you see that’s the thing. If you look around the world today you notice all those themes found in comic books and super heroes but in a million different ways, all leading to a same conclusion. Taking a quick glance into the things that appeal to us, we think of modern-day super heroes like Master Chief “John” (from the HALO series) or good old classical heroes like Superman. We look at novels, fiction, and entertainment and in the end the truth is that we are all, and by all I mean all, looking for a super hero–or something or someone who is able, at least in our fantasy minds, restore justice and peace to our world. We are unable to escape this inner urge for a world better than ours, a world of greater justices in which heroes restore the world towards purity, and evil pays for what it has done and is punished behind bars or in hell. Because deep down inside we are all looking true justice in this world and someone, better than our pathetic selves, to bring forth this justice that we are seeking so much.

Us and the Hero.

The truth is that at times we consider ourselves worthy enough for this role: to be the one who delivers justice, even through judgment if necessary. However, those phases pass and we come to the realization that at times, our actions and thoughts are just as wicked and fallen as those upon whom we desire punishment. So we need a hero, right? Someone who rises, either by virtue or birth, above our pathetic state, someone who IS truly just and truly good, someone who is able to judge because justice, for that hero, isn’t something to imitate, but the very definition of their character.

Whether in Abraham Maslow’s search of the selfless actualized human being, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s Superman as a modern-day messiah, or as Nietzsche’s Übermensch, we are all looking for something beyond ourselves, something beyond our cyclical state of injustice, hypocrisy, and fallen nature.

This hero of ours.

One thing that I’ve noticed is the fact that even though we are all looking for that which is greater than ourselves, whether we find it in Captain America or in a granola bar, is that even though we look for similar ideals, outcomes, and traits in that hero, our heroes end up very different from one another, based on our perspective on justice and an ideally “good” and “pure” world.

For some it takes the shape of a great military commander or an honest politician. To others it may be in fact a vigilante or a super hero. Some of us may even consider that it takes more than one, so terrorist or paramilitary action is required as the embodiment of true justice and this hero of ours. Some of us, in fact, may actually go to sleep every night hoping that someone like Superman or a Super Saiyan who comes into this world and deals with the problems and issues that plague us, because for some, that is exactly what this world needs.

The Hero.

I find this introspection of myself and my fellow human beings quite interesting out of that fact that the hero already came. The Hero has been here. The true superman came into this world and was rejected, chained up, crucified on a cross, disfigured, beat up, whipped, and unjustly murdered by the people he came to save.

Even though seeming like just a man, Jesus was fully God as well and He came with authority from God to carry out great miracles and signs among us of the Kingdom of God to come: that future Kingdom which through Jesus Christ was brought into contact with our world.

Jesus not only taught us the character of God and the character we should embrace if we choose to become part of God’s Kingdom. Jesus also taught us what true justice is and, above justice, that true and pure love, driven by a love of God, is the one weapon and element that transforms the lives of people. Jesus came, taught, carried out great signs and wonders, was imprisoned, unjustly murdered (crucified), but, because He had a divine purpose form God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, rose from the dead in victory over death. He took the power of death away from the kingdom of darkness and carried the evil and sins of the world at the cross–he paid the price no other hero, man-made or supernatural, or human being in general was, is, or will be able to do. He died so that we may live, and live a life in communion with Our Maker and Loving Creator, God.

A hero, a man, a God, like no other.

Yes. A hero like no other. One beautiful thing about Jesus is that He died for us. Seeing our evil, our darkness, our hypocrisy, our sin, and our future evil and future mistakes, He still decided to carry our sins at the cross. Jesus came not only to preach the coming Kingdom of God, which dwells now among us through the lives of the Saints (all believers) but to restore us, through His sacrifice, to God.

God, being fully just and sinless, is not able to be in communion with evil, to be in a relationship with evil. Therefore, in order that we may be restored to God, Jesus, the Son, died and carried our sins and resurrected to grant us ever-lasting life. Those who accept this hero, those who accept, by faith, what Christ did, are welcomed into the Kingdom of God and are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

You simply have to believe. For, if you believe, then you will share in the blessings of what humanity’s one true hero (super hero even) did 2,000 years ago, and continues to do at the right hand of God today.

————————————————–

The choice.

Like in every story, comic book, movie, or novel, the audience is given the choice to make a choice. Do we accept or reject the hero? Is he epic enough? realistic enough? tragic enough? Does he embody the struggles that we face as human beings? What makes Jesus different from every other single hero is that the choice at stake is one that, whichever decision you make, has great consequences. It doesn’t come down to whether you will buy or go to the sequel or not, or whether you will make that hero’s face your desktop background for a couple weeks. No. Whatever your conclusion and choice is on the person of Jesus Christ impacts your destiny and the one relationship which is essential to life. You and God.

The choice to accept Christ, what He did at the cross and at the resurrection, is ours. If you say yes, well, when God looks at you He will no longer see your sin and your darkness, but He will see the righteousness of Christ in you. Christ has paid for your debts and now you can enjoy communion with God and be part of this present and future Kingdom of God, a kingdom of light: where true justice, true worship, true love, and true communion will reign eternally.

Humanity’s true hero came about 2,010 years ago into this world. Not as an anything else than a young child, who was fully God and fully man (truly a great miracle) and He paid the sacrifice, through his perfection and righteousness, no one else could pay. And now you must choose: will you keep looking for Superman? Or will you embrace the call of humanity’s Savior, Jesus Christ?

Be Blessed.

_______________________________________

These thoughts began to take shape a few years ago when I heard the following lines in the movie Superman Returns and couldn’t help but draw parallels with the couple verses from Scripture that followed:

From Jor-El to his son Kal-el (Superman)

“They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you… my only son.”

John 3:16-17

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Matthew 3: 16-17

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

——

“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent,[c] nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

The Gospel of John 1:1-5 and 10-13

Looking for Superman.


I love super heroes. No, seriously, I love super heroes. If I trust you enough, I might even let you take a look at my decent comic book collection I have back home. It isn’t much but it proves a point: I love super heroes. From a young age I became fixated with power, especially power used for the greater good, like that of super heroes. I became a fan of Iron Man, Superman, Batman, and Captain America, among many others. I simply loved the concept of a supernatural being able to restore justice and peace to the world…crazy fictional but fun stuff. Right? Right?

But you see that’s the thing. If you look around the world today you notice all those themes found in comic books and super heroes but in a million different ways, all leading to a same conclusion. Taking a quick glance into the things that appeal to us, we think of modern-day super heroes like Master Chief “John” (from the HALO series) or good old classical heroes like Superman. We look at novels, fiction, and entertainment and in the end the truth is that we are all, and by all I mean all, looking for a super hero–or something or someone who is able, at least in our fantasy minds, restore justice and peace to our world. We are unable to escape this inner urge for a world better than ours, a world of greater justices in which heroes restore the world towards purity, and evil pays for what it has done and is punished behind bars or in hell. Because deep down inside we are all looking true justice in this world and someone, better than our pathetic selves, to bring forth this justice that we are seeking so much.

Us and the Hero.

The truth is that at times we consider ourselves worthy enough for this role: to be the one who delivers justice, even through judgment if necessary. However, those phases pass and we come to the realization that at times, our actions and thoughts are just as wicked and fallen as those upon whom we desire punishment. So we need a hero, right? Someone who rises, either by virtue or birth, above our pathetic state, someone who IS truly just and truly good, someone who is able to judge because justice, for that hero, isn’t something to imitate, but the very definition of their character.

Whether in Abraham Maslow’s search of the selfless actualized human being, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s Superman as a modern-day messiah, or as Nietzsche’s Übermensch, we are all looking for something beyond ourselves, something beyond our cyclical state of injustice, hypocrisy, and fallen nature.

This hero of ours.

One thing that I’ve noticed is the fact that even though we are all looking for that which is greater than ourselves, whether we find it in Captain America or in a granola bar, is that even though we look for similar ideals, outcomes, and traits in that hero, our heroes end up very different from one another, based on our perspective on justice and an ideally “good” and “pure” world.

For some it takes the shape of a great military commander or an honest politician. To others it may be in fact a vigilante or a super hero. Some of us may even consider that it takes more than one, so terrorist or paramilitary action is required as the embodiment of true justice and this hero of ours. Some of us, in fact, may actually go to sleep every night hoping that someone like Superman or a Super Saiyan who comes into this world and deals with the problems and issues that plague us, because for some, that is exactly what this world needs.

The Hero.

I find this introspection of myself and my fellow human beings quite interesting out of that fact that the hero already came. The Hero has been here. The true superman came into this world and was rejected, chained up, crucified on a cross, disfigured, beat up, whipped, and unjustly murdered by the people he came to save.

Even though seeming like just a man, Jesus was fully God as well and He came with authority from God to carry out great miracles and signs among us of the Kingdom of God to come: that future Kingdom which through Jesus Christ was brought into contact with our world.

Jesus not only taught us the character of God and the character we should embrace if we choose to become part of God’s Kingdom. Jesus also taught us what true justice is and, above justice, that true and pure love, driven by a love of God, is the one weapon and element that transforms the lives of people. Jesus came, taught, carried out great signs and wonders, was imprisoned, unjustly murdered (crucified), but, because He had a divine purpose form God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, rose from the dead in victory over death. He took the power of death away from the kingdom of darkness and carried the evil and sins of the world at the cross–he paid the price no other hero, man-made or supernatural, or human being in general was, is, or will be able to do. He died so that we may live, and live a life in communion with Our Maker and Loving Creator, God.

A hero, a man, a God, like no other.

Yes. A hero like no other. One beautiful thing about Jesus is that He died for us. Seeing our evil, our darkness, our hypocrisy, our sin, and our future evil and future mistakes, He still decided to carry our sins at the cross. Jesus came not only to preach the coming Kingdom of God, which dwells now among us through the lives of the Saints (all believers) but to restore us, through His sacrifice, to God.

God, being fully just and sinless, is not able to be in communion with evil, to be in a relationship with evil. Therefore, in order that we may be restored to God, Jesus, the Son, died and carried our sins and resurrected to grant us ever-lasting life. Those who accept this hero, those who accept, by faith, what Christ did, are welcomed into the Kingdom of God and are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

You simply have to believe. For, if you believe, then you will share in the blessings of what humanity’s one true hero (super hero even) did 2,000 years ago, and continues to do at the right hand of God today.

————————————————–

The choice is yours.

The choice to accept Christ, what He did at the cross and at the resurrection, is yours. If you say yes, well, when God looks at you He will no longer see your sin and your darkness, but He will see the righteousness of Christ in you. Christ has paid for your debts and now you can enjoy communion with God and be part of this present and future Kingdom of God, a kingdom of light: where true justice, true worship, true love, and true communion will reign eternally.

Humanity’s true hero came about 2,010 years ago into this world. Not as an anything else than a young child, who was fully God and fully man (truly a great miracle) and He paid the sacrifice, through his perfection and righteousness, no one else could pay. And now you must choose: will you keep looking for Superman? Or will you embrace the call of humanity’s Savior, Jesus Christ?

Jesus is knocking at your heart. All you have to do is open the door.

Be Blessed.

_______________________________________

These thoughts began to take shape a few years ago when I heard the following lines in the movie Superman Returns and couldn’t help but draw parallels with the couple verses from Scripture that followed:

From Jor-El to his son Kal-el (Superman)

“They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you… my only son.”

John 3:16-17

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Matthew 3: 16-17

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Last night I, and the house that I live in, had a moment of truth. Not just simple truth. We had a moment of Godly Truth.

It’s hard for me to attempt at replaying and that transpired last night at 17 Enterprise St, Raleigh, NC. However, whether it was from God…there is no doubt that it was from God.

________

Trench Warfare

The last few months have been hard on me. I have always taken a lot of pride in my academic work and, out of all things, that has been the greatest blow as ROTC and the military have become a bigger and bigger part of my life. However, along with the military, living in a house with six other men (and with all the guests that come through as a ministry house) it has been truly a challenge learning to live together.

Without going into much detail, last night the tension reached a peak high as I myself lost any sense of respect and tolerance and acted out of anger and pride. Funny thing is that I had always taken pride in the fact I was the “middle man”–not a fighter between the two groups of people in the house but simply a middle man and the hope for the transformation of our home.

However, the past few weeks I had allowed my emotions and temper to get the best of me and I realized that I became part of the unforgiveness, anger, and hatred that had overwhelmed the house the last year or so. I stopped being the hope for change and instead became a fighter in the trenches–a developed a vendetta against certain people, became full of unforgiveness, and I came to a state of mind in which I was willing for the provocation enough to throw a punch at somebody. The saddest part is that the entire time I was blind to my very own state of living in sinfulness.

_______

Last night something happened. My eyes were opened. We came within seconds of blood, but the Holy Spirit saved us right upon the brink of disaster. God is good, faithful, and graceful–this I am sure of. The Holy Spirit led me to a conversation outside with one of the leaders in the house, a friend of mine with whom my relationship had become tarnished by unforgiveness taking place in our hearts. In our conversation we dropped the gloves and spoke from the heart, we spoke truths, we spoke lies, we spoke from anger, and also from desperation. In the end, we spoke from love and the hope that, just as we had realized our own failures and sin that others would be able to come to grips with the fact we had stopped being Godly–we had invited the Devil into our home and even set him up a bed with an access-to-all pass.

After an illuminating conversation outside, in which God convicted of my own ineffectiveness and my own state of chronic sin, I came back inside a broken man. I was a broken man because in trying to start a fight God showed me that…I was wrong. I had been wrong for a long time and instead of being a light I had become a worshiper of my own pride and thoughts.

A Broken Man

I went back in doors and my fellow sinners were waiting to hear what I had talked about outside. They wanted to hear of my victory over out supposed enemies. They wanted to see their own ideas and misconceptions reign supreme. We wanted to be right and continue the fight. But God has other plans. God had broken me and my own sinfulness. God had turned me into a messenger of a message that was going to get into the nasty and dirty parts of our life.

The message was a simple one…”that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.”

I came up the small stairs that led from the main door to the living and sat down in one of the chairs. I didn’t really know where to start so I simply started.

I laid it out. I laid out the issues of the house, the negative attitude of people that live here and people and come in here. I stated that if you came through those doors with a negative fighting spirit you should turn around and just leave. I challenged my brothers and sisters on would we be able to reach this campus and our city if Christians were fighting Christians in our own homes. I talked about how the Devil loves what’s happening here and how the unforgiveness has to go. Because that is exactly what the Devil wants. Why bother us with belligerent atheists, confused agnostics, superconfused Mormons, and “wise” intellectuals when he can simply make us aim our guns at each other?

The Devil loves it when Christians become so unfocused that we simply lose all perspective that there are bigger battles to fight and there is no absolutely no room in the Kingdom of God and in the Lord’s Army for unforgiveness and unrelenting anger against anyone, but especially those that have also pledged their lives to Christ.

I talked about how that isn’t Christ like and about how futile it is to try to help out  non-Christian among us, who is dealing with so many issues, while what he sees is Christian hating on fellow Christians.

I ended mentioning that I had been convicted of my own sin and my own failure to make a difference. I confessed to the people I had issues with that I was guilty of talking behind their back and of being just as wrong as everybody else. I stated how nobody in this house was innocent and that we all needed to repent and come to grips with the fact we were being the very source of the demonic warfare that surrounded us.

I finished stating that whether we were students or former students, “Chi Alphans” or not, residents of the house or not, we are all members of the Kingdom of God and that this trench warfare was an obstacle in our mission to reach this city for Jesus Christ, that He may reign on our streets as He wants to reign in our hearts.

______

The Place of Prayer: revisited

A brother in Christ who had shown up that evening moved us into a time of prayer: exactly the first step needed in healing the wounds of our trench war. So we prayed and we opened our hearts to being transformed by God the Father and His Holy Spirit into the wonderful nature and character of Christ. After prayer we went our own ways in silence. I believe that we had broken through the enemy’s first line of defense and now it was time for the Holy Spirit to lead us to be transformed.

Transformation.

I write on the morning after the events mentioned above. As I write I am at peace with my fellow house members and my brothers and sisters in Christ. I do not hold destiny in my hands so I can not be certain of what God will do with what happened here and in the hearts of some of us last night; however, I pray that we, as a community, are led into a period of transformation. That is my prayer: that we may be transformed, sanctified, and glorified for the Glory of God. That is all I ask for because that is all I need and desire.

If you have read this post then please take a few minutes to pray. Pray for communities of Christians everywhere for we are all vulnerable to the same issues which engulfed our house. We are all vulnerable to being targets of terrible trench warfare that the enemy wants us to be part of to take away our focus from the real war and the real fight against the kingdom of darkness. If you may, then please pray.

Be blessed.

“Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

John 3: 2-4

——-

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

“And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.

Matthew 18: 1-5

I make my way up the stairs back to my room, on the second floor of a house across Hillsborough St. in Raleigh. It’s a pretty nice room–except for the tons of camouflage Army-issued equipment that fills and covers most of the floors. I’ve really tried to work at it and development a “clean room” ethic, but the truth is that every Thursday when I get back from the field, everything goes back to its fallen chaotic order. Oh well.

This morning I am led to reflection on some thoughts I had early this weekend. God moved me to write them because He and I want these thoughts and words to be a blessing for those that read them. That is my hope and prayer.

___________

On Saturday, around noon, I made my way to a park north of Downtown Raleigh. The park was called Spring Forest Rd. Park and it was hosting Viva Raleigh, the City of Raleigh’s very first city-sponsored Latin American/Hispanic culture event in which my dad had the opportunity to be one of the main coordinators and leaders to make it happen. It was a wonderful event and very needed as a way for the City of Raleigh to acknowledge the growing Hispanic community that has made North Carolina the state with the fastest growing rate of immigrant population.

It was an awesome family-oriented event with music, games, food, and the city and other organizations promoting programs and services directed at the Latino community. As I made my way to the park itself–I had to park on a parking lot outside the park because the park’s was packed–I noticed all the parents with their kids and how excited the kids were about the event. Among the many families I noticed one kid, Hispanic of course, wearing an Atlanta Braves hat, who asked his mom, “Mama, estamos esperando el bus para el parque?” (Mom, are we waiting for the bus that takes us to the park?) The mom replied yes and immediately a huge smile overcame the child’s face. It was an inspiring smile.

God touched me and moved me through the child’s smile and I was moved to reflection and to the worship of God. I immediately thought about how willing children are to believe and trust their parents at a moments notice without second thoughts. To be honest, it would take a pretty irresponsible and unloving parent for a child to not trust his/her parents at such a young age.

Within our 21st century, intellect-centered mentality we see it as naive to simply trust and believe without question—people that live like that are called fools, naive, blind, and ignorant. It isn’t the right way to live, the proper way to exist if we do not question those in authority–at least that is how the kingdom of this world teaches us to live.

Nicodemus, Eden, and necessity of Rebirth

However, my thoughts are led to Jesus. Jesus, on the night that Nicodemus converses with him, declares the following: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” To this statement Nicodemus questions Jesus on how is man able to be born again without having to be born as child through a woman once again. Jesus once again says “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” Nicodemus didn’t get it or at least not that night. In being born again Jesus referred to, or refers since He resurrected and sits at the right hand of God the Father, the need for the fallen nature and spirit of men (and women) to be restored through the justification of our sins and the sanctification of our being. Jesus was in no way stating that one had literally to be born again as a child but to be “restored” as a new creation set apart for the worship, service, and glory of God.

This interpretation of the need to be born again truly is correct and Jesus is true is stating the urgency and need of this event to take place in every man and woman, in order to be restored to God and His Kingdom. If we take a look back at the Fall of Man at Eden we notice how after sinning, mankind enters a state of pseudo-death. We do not die physically, at least not right away, but in being ripped apart from God, Adam and Eve died spiritually. We lost all sense of communion, unity, and any sort of relationship they had with God through their desire to sin and worship themselves. It is reasonable then for there to be a need to be restored, born again, spiritually through Jesus Christ and the restoration of our existence to God and the glory of His Kingdom.

To be like a child

I was led to another passage of Scripture through my experience above. At one point while here on Earth, Jesus was asked about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. I think Jesus sort of laughed at the vanity of their question (even though they probably didn’t know any better). Jesus answered them in His usual manner by being indirect and weird. He answered them, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus seems to have been indirect and vague in His response to the disciples, but I believe He was actually being very true and clear. You must believe like a young child in order to be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. You must believe like a child, trust like a child, love like a child, follow like a child, have the faith in the super natural like a child…ask your loving parent about the bus knowing they are able to fully trust in the answer they will be given.

I believe this passage is directly connected with Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3. As citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven we are to be transformed into new creation in order to have the faith of a child and trust and love they way a child, untouched by the claws of the world, can love, believe, and trust. That is our goal: to be able to stand before a pack of hungry lions knowing that whatever happens will be for God’s Glory—for I am his child and I love and trust him.

I disagree.

Some people will say that to have doubted your faith at some point makes you a stronger believer. The experience of having mistrusted your loving Eternal Father somehow is supposed to build you and harden you for the fight ahead. I disagree.

What you are telling me is that doubting your faith (in essence, not trusting God), or sinning, makes you a stronger Christian in the long run because you have experience from the fights of life’s walk. No. The argument that doubting your faith makes you a stronger Christian in the long run is a world-centered statement made to scape goat our past mistakes and future failures–basically, excusing our short-comings. The Christian that comes to the faith and faithfully stands by Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit with the faith of a child will be honored, strengthened, and will receive in Heaven a reward greater than that of many. Experience is Satan’s way of excusing our sin–at least on many occasions.

Blessed.

Scripture is clear in that “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” (Psalm 1) Those who are transformed by being born again, and learn to live with the faith of a child (absolute trust in the Sovereignty of Our Eternal Father God) will be honored and their faithfulness will be honored by God to the extent it will overcome any perceived “need” for experience and doubt in your walk.

Therefore, I encourage my brothers and sisters, to pursue sanctification in the Holy Spirit and to persevere in the walk of the faith. Do not be discouraged for God honors the soldier that marches to the top of the mountain and yet is ready to fight the battle to come. Let us pursue Jesus’ challenge for our life by praying for God to work within us to help us believe like a child, trust like a child, and love like a child, knowing God has promised that our lives will be for good, a promised made to those who love the Lord. Let us be transformed through our resurrection in Christ’s very own victory over death.

Be blessed. Be encouraged.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

Mark 1:35

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday: the whole ritual takes place about three to four times a week on average. I wake up for ROTC physical training around 4:30 am and I get back home, normally sweaty and ready to lie down for a few minutes. Once home, I usually take a shower, change clothes, grab something to eat, and then get ready for whatever the day has ahead.

However, there are certain days that this ritualistic procedure changes. There are days that I am led–yes, something beyond me leads me–to reflection and meditation. Now, by meditation I don’t refer to some systematic introspection process. However, I do enter a state of reflection in which I take a look at my life through the eyes of God, the eyes of divine wisdom and true enlightenment. It is on days like these that I am led to conviction on multiple levels and truly understand what human humility and the love and grace of God are all about.

It’s extremely hard to find times of true peace and quiet in our busy days, weeks, and months. A person can go on for weeks and months (some even years) without a moment of reflection, clarity, and introspection– without a moment to look at one’s self and be honest with ourselves about who we are and the decisions we have made. Sadly, this is not just an aspect of modern and postmodern life but an issue deep down at the core of humanity. This is the very reason why I say that I am led to moments of reflection because I believe that if it were left to me, I wouldn’t choose to seek God and His peace.

The solitary place of prayer.

I remember that passage in Scripture in which Jesus is led to a solitary place to pray. I think it is interesting when we look at the verses right before how Jesus is incredibly busy healing people here and there. He even heals Peter’s mother-in-law. Right before this, Jesus had been teaching at the synagogue when a demon-possessed man confronts him and Jesus drives the evil spirit out of him. Jesus spent the entire day bringing not only the Good News of the Kingdom of God to the people but also bringing Kingdom justice by healing the sick and liberating the oppressed.

However, I find it beautiful how the very next day we see Jesus waking up while it was still dark to pray. It’s a beautiful picture because we see Jesus without the disciples and for once we get a glimpse into the personal character of Christ beyond the crowds and all the liberating of demons and healing. It’s a beautiful picture of the Savior Man and God admitting His submission before God the Father and humbling Himself through prayer–knowing it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit and the will of God the Father that He is able to carry out His mission.

I am led to be transformed.

This morning is a lot like those other mornings I described above. I am being led to clarity, reflection, meditation, and refocus. I pray that the outcome of this may be a deeper understanding of who I am, my mistakes, my failures, my sin, my shortcomings, the times I have failed and hurt others, my need for God and His beautiful grace. I pray I may understand my need to love more, to care more, to give more of myself to my fellow brothers in Christ, to respect more, to be more compassionate, to be more understanding, to be more passionate for the lives of others, to be more passionate about the Kingdom, to realize my God-initiated desire to be closer to and more like my Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.

The truth of it all.

And the truth of it all is that we need moments like these. Moments of reflection, prayer, and clarity are God’s gift to our chaos-centered world. Life makes so much sense once I sink into and come forth from such moments. If Jesus, in all His Glory and Power, sought such moments to pray and humble before God, how much more do we, in our daily sin and failures, need to run away with God every so often?

——

It is 8:21am. I look outside the window of the living room and notice the powerful beams of light bursting through: a sign that the day has begun and the sun is in its full splendor. As I move towards finishing this post that, I pray, comes as a blessing to you, I realize the magnanimity of the tasks before me. However, I fear not nor tremble before them. In my heart I find peace, comfort, and love from the Divine. I know, I am certain, that God is with me at every single moment of every single day. He is always there waiting to be engaged by us–waiting for us to humble ourselves and realize our need for Him at all times. At that point we will be led into the solitary place, a spiritual place, where we are to be transformed. As I step into the world, I am certain that I am led by the beautiful and loving hand of our Lord.

Be blessed.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.”

John 17: 10

The past few months I have had the marvelous experience of living in manhole. Yes, a manhole. For those of you that may not be aware of the significance of the term, a manhole is a place where the full extent of “maleness” is able to be expressed. This doesn’t mean that it is actually being expressed, but that the ability and availability of it being expressed is present. That was a mouthful.

Of course, I am not referring to the incredible Biblical aspects of being a man or being a male (even though I will admit that at sometimes they do show up here and there) but more to the negative-leaning aspects of manhood–or maybe lack of it? (Only God knows).

Nevertheless, from living together with 6 other men in a two-story house, the past three and a half months, I believe that God has been faithful to teach me essential lessons that I will take with me, and never take for granted, for the rest of my life in this grace-needy world. So we begin…

Don’t take for granted what your parents taught you.

One would assume, from hindsight, that no one is raised the same way and under the same circumstances. Duh. However, it doesn’t really hit you until it is a reality that you simply have to live with. Even though I wasn’t ever a “chore-doing” kid, my parents always taught me about how essential it is to “be clean” and “be presentable.” By this I am not referring to taking showers or wearing clean clothes, but of the fact that the place where you live, and the status of the place where you live is like a picture–to those who visit you–of the kind of person that you are.

From young my parents taught me that having a clean room, wearing appropriate clothes, being neat, and being responsible where the marks of a mature and “above the standard” individual and that if these qualities were not developed early in life, one would never be able to catch up.

How does this relate to my status quo? Well, let’s just say that the “tragedy of the commons” is a very present tragedy. There is nothing more upsetting than living together, trying to be successful students, young professionals, Christian men, Kingdom-servants, and yet not being able to successfully get people to wash their dishes…or pick up their stuff from the living room…do their chores…or PICK UP THEIR DIRTY PLATES OFF THE GROUND. Yes. I know. It is sad. But if people weren’t taught early in life these critical responsibility issues, then it is truly a doctoral thesis to get them to learn now.

Being a full-time student, Army cadet, family member, boyfriend, worker, and youth leader, life and time management are of the essence. However, living “together” has proven to be one of my greatest challenges yet.

One example of this would be arriving home, after a long day in the field training with ROTC, and finding the living room packed with people–it’s all good, it’s a campus ministry house after all. However, the sad thing was seeing how the “guests” were getting up ready to leave the house and not picking up their dirty plates they had use to eat their dinner…from the ground. Being appalled by the scene, I walked to the plates, picked them up, and washed them in the kitchen sink. Point made. Even though this goes beyond the values of the individuals I live with, things like these wouldn’t happen if we, as a house, had made a policy on the responsibilities of guests, whether they are personal friends or people from the campus ministry dropping by to hang out.

In conclusion, I am grateful of the values I have been taught and developed throughout my life–I just pray God grants me the grace and mercy to lovingly pass them on to my fellow men.

You see, is the issue really the dirty dishes? No, someone will end up cleaning them. Is the issue here a messy living quarters? Sort of, but in the end someone will pick stuff up. The issue at the heart of it all is that how we live, how we conduct ourselves, and how we treat others (especially when we live with them) shows the state of our heart and our soul. That is the issue at hand.

A State of Conviction

There is something obviously wrong when you are ok with leaving the sink piled up with dirty dishes, simply because someone else will do the chore in the end. There is something wrong about leaving a messy living room behind because it will get messy again tomorrow. There is something wrong about going to sleep at 2am and complain the next day that people are being loud at 8am–what were you doing up at 2am? There is something wrong going on when brothers in Christ are failing are living biblically because no one has the balls to smack them in the face and calling them out how we are told to in Scripture. There is something wrong going on when a brother decides to lie when confronted by another brother about life issues. There is something wrong when we are unwilling to take criticism well from our fellow brothers in Christ simply because we are too stubborn to grow up and be a man. Yes, be a man: a responsible, potential-filled, servant and leader in the Kingdom of God.

Living Together

In the end, these things depict what prioritizes our lives and reveals that our stubbornness to keep living the way we are, screwing other people over, and being comfortable and being “right” are more important than humbling ourselves and learning how to live together–because that is what fellowship is: living together.

This is a very tough post to write because in this I recognize my own failures. Above all, my greatest failure and sin has been to see all these things and, knowing the possible solutions, deciding that I was unable to change or help the situation. I’ve tried in some ways, but if I truly look at myself and humble myself, I will be the first to admit that I didn’t try hard enough. I gave up on my brothers in Christ.

Why is this important? Why are these small things so crucial, especially to Christian men? As Christian men and as Christians in general, we are called to live a life as a living sacrifice for the glory of God. We will hopefully one day be leaders, if we aren’t already, in the church, in our family, in our groups of friends, and parents to our children. If we don’t learn how to live together in harmony with fellow men–which are Christian–how will we live the rest of our lives, one day, with our wives? Our children? The state of where we live, and our relationship with those we live with, is a picture of 100,000 words. The state of how we live is a doctoral thesis on who we are and the kind of people we are. If we weren’t taught how to live responsibly when we were young, how to live together, then we should make it a goal, an objective, to persevere in that aspect of our life.

And if you were raised with those responsible, truly manly, and honest values, then it is your (our) responsibility to hold our fellow brothers in Christ accountable and to pull them up with us–in a loving, yet truthful, manner that the Bible teaches us.

That’s all.

He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’ ; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”
“That is enough,” he replied.

Luke 22: 36-38

Recently RELEVANT Magazine published an article on the legitimacy of the Iraq War viewed from a Christian or Christianity-inspired perspective. RELEVANT interview two Christian experts on their respective subjects:

Daniel Heimbach from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary on JUST WAR, and

David Gushee from Mercer University on JUST PEACEMAKING.

I recommend the article because I believe both experts present good points on the legitimacy of military conflict and also at the application of military-exercise theories to contemporary events and conflicts. However, I would like to emphasize the last question that is asked on torture and aggressive interrogation since it is in those cases that these theories, and our own convictions as Christians, are challenged the most.
I may write a whole post on this later on. For now, enjoy the RELEVANT article.
Related Links:

Iraq War

Just War Theory

David Gushee

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