This Is What You Do

One song that's meant a lot to me this year is "This is what you do" from Bethel Music. I walked into a new church back in August and as they were singing the song, I started crying. I began to weep. It's an uptempo song and so many are celebrating, jumping up and down, and shouts of praise. I didn't know what was going on and so I went home and looked up the song. And just from playing it online, I cried for 20 minutes straight. Here are the lyrics: It's always like springtime with You, making all things new Your light is breaking through the dark This love it is sweeter than wine Bringing joy, bringing life Your hope is rising like the dawn This is what You do, this is what You do You make me come alive This is what You do, this is what You do You make me come alive This is what You do, this is what You do You make me come alive This is what You do, this is what You do You make me come alive, You make me come alive You make me come alive, You make me come alive You make me come alive, You make me come alive You make me come alive, You make me come alive It's like I'm living for the first time Finally living for the first time I believe it was my spirit longing for the new life Jesus promised ... So let's take a look back at 2012. I left my job in full-time ministry, took one of the biggest leaps of faith in my life, and I'm now a life coach. This is the first year of my blog where I did not post until today. I had a few writings on deck but never felt they were quite right to publish. But I do want to end the year with gratitude. Thankful that God was patience with me. Thankful that my life is coming back. There were days I felt like a zombie. There were days where the only prayer I could muster was "God whatever happens, just promise me You'll never let go of my hand." I had some amazing friends and a supportive family who came through in the clutch. I'm making some new friends to start the next chapter of my life. My gifts are getting an upgrade and that's exciting. I'm trying new things that I've never done before and I'm hopeful. I went back to Kentucky and Virginia last month and it was an emotional time. I spent the first 30 years of my life in those places. But for now it's time to move on to the next chapter, the next sequel of my life. There was heartache, pain, fear, shame, but also hope, laughter, gratefulness, and love. And so for now, in my one and only post of the year, I pray that 2013 is the year I turn the corner in many areas of my life. May I become more than what I ever thought I would be. And may I come truly come alive. Amen.


Kindrid Spirits

What does it mean to be a man after God’s own heart?
Well, let’s begin with the mystery that I was chosen from the start
God knew me and loved me before the creation of the world
Born as a beloved little boy and not as a girl
My surroundings were decided, and absolutely not my first choice
But all the events in my life – good and bad -- pushed me to heed to His Voice
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, honesty is another key
To obey and be blessed is the formula to be who I was meant to be
It’s not always easy when God gives and takes away
Especially with the loss, grief is attached to those days
So why do I continue? I could just give up
And ask repeatedly, like Jesus, please remove this cup
Of suffering, strife, loneliness, and pain
Another nail, another cross, are you kidding? This is insane!
Will it ever end? Will I get a reprieve?
That’s part of the package, this is what I receive
But I could settle and make my dreams come true
But many times those things aren’t holy and cause me to walk away from You
So I look to the hills to which my help comes from
Falling to my knees, I confess, help ne before my soul goes numb
I don’t want to grow callous and my conscious disappear
Grow cold, hardened, hateful -- just admit my spirit thirsts like the deer
I know and have tasted that the Lord is good
So there will be times I may find myself misunderstood
Called to do things that go against the grain
Following God means leaving others behind, to die is gain
Their approval, acceptance can become my idols
I cry out to the Lord Jesus, please help me to break out of those cycles
Co-dendency, enmeshment, manipulation and abuse
Can suck the life out of me, take way my juice
To encourage, speak life, give hope to the lost
Be a friend or a brother– good like your favorite steak sauce
So realize there’s more growth, nothing’s “run of the mill”
I desire clean hands and a pure heart to enter the Lord’s holy hill
So no more deceit, there must be character and integrity
If I hope to be like King David and honor the Trinity
God will not tolerate me looking to worship another god
Anything in the sea or heaven, or someone with a great bod
Reminiscing of all the wrong I’ve done, this is my lament
Repentance begins when I rend my heart, and not my garment
Since I am called by Your Name, humble myself and pray
You will hear from Heaven and restore me, that’s the Truth You say
So I am depending on You, I want to abide in Your presence
May Your Spirit encompass me, may it penetrate all of my essence


The Cadence of My Cry

In the Name of Jesus I’m forgiven
I committed a sin, I admit it
All I wanted was to be loved
To feel great, and fly like a dove
I own my mistakes, no one else to blame
Some days the tears fall down my face like rain
I hurt myself and others I cared for
I have no idea what the future has in store
I know there’s redemption, there’s good to come
At least there’s a lesson, another one has begun
Pay attention to all that I’ve learned
About myself and others so next time no one gets burned
Take no one for granted because you never know
The gift you received can go away, melt away like snow
Do whatever you can to be wise like Solomon
Pray, examine yourself, do the work to shine like the Son
He’s the only Savior, no one can take His place
But it’s so easy to put things, people in His space
There are letdowns, disappointments, confusion and sadness
I did what I thought was the best way to handle my madness
But there’s a way that seems right to a man
But destruction will not let you stand
Knock you down as you follow its path
So follow God, find life, please – do the math
If you find yourself on the ground
If failure in your life is a common noun,
Staying there won’t help your cause
Get back up again, take a minute and pause,
“Where do you want to go with the time you have left?”
Each choice affects the destination, each and every step
Life or death, say the word, the power of the tongue
If not, you may find yourself throwing in the towel and be done
But the story does not have to have that ending
A better conclusion, may the world hear it, you’re sending
A message that not all hope is lost
My Beloved, Yahweh, He’s the Boss
Specialize in working things together for good
Making all things new, how He does it, I have no clue
The Mystery, the unknown, the Spirit at work
Can turn me, you, or any handful of dirt
To something beautiful, clean, radiant and pure
Separating us from our iniquity, that’s what He does I’m sure
That’s what He said when we agree that we miss the mark
He’s faithful, just, and then leads us out of the dark
May we walk with Him each and every day
There will be trouble, not a lot of times like a sunny afternoon in May
So stay the course, a higher calling is the prize
No reward on earth can match its size
We have no idea the inheritance we will receive
Taking up our cross, never give up, and just believe
Finding rest in the arms of my soul’s Lover
May I always dwell in the secret place and find cover
I’m sorry Jesus that I can’t get it right
I feel so lost at times, and I loose my sight
Distracted by the evil desires of my heart
How wicked it is and my shadow self -- loves playing its part
I pray one day to make you proud, leaving behind an amazing legacy
That I didn’t always give in and was owned by a life of ecstasy
Not a screw up or a looser but one who persevered
One who endured only because of the strength that Yeshua was near
He is the only one who can keep me from falling
Keeping me faultless before His glorious presence, I heard the calling
Yet so many times I walked away, did my own thing
And found myself many days spent in self-pity and shame
All I have left is the cry, please hear your son
Please remember when you come into Your Kingdom

Lonely (Edit)

Would you believe me if I said, “I’m dying”
Not physically, but on the inside, crying
Leaving the familiar of what I knew and loved
And had a close connection with God in heaven up above
But like Abraham I was told to pack up and go
And develop and write and perform a new show
But this was no sitcom, musical, performance, recording, or play
It was the beginning and at times, I confess, “I did it my way”
Days of sadness, days of hope, days of apathy, all mixed into one
Blur together as I look and focus or turn away from the Son
Tears and lack of vision I’m afraid I have no future
I’m lost, no direction, my soul bleeds, I need a suture
To stop the blood, the life from leaving my body
I need that but it’s flowing out faster than a Maserati
Exhausted, insomnia, nothing takes away the pain
A call, a letter, a visit that’s what keeps me sane
But what if this is the only way for me to travel?
I fear that too much of this and I may unravel
Is this how Jesus felt as His life came to and end?
I know for me – I don’t want this cross—I confess it’s sin
And be who knows where and with whomever?
May not like the environment or the company, “I want better
I deserve it, I work hard, You know what this does to me!”
I fall apart, crumble, can’t hold it together, OMG! Everyone will see …
So I come broken, here I am, Your servant and son
Looking for His Heavenly Father, don’t wait, please come
I have to believe that You are here with me
So please take care of me, friend me, love me …
And hear my cry, dear Jesus, “I’m lonely…”


From Head to Heart

"The more you open yourself to being healed, the more you will discover how deep your wounds are ... The great challenge is living your wounds through instead of thinking through them. ... The choice you face constantly is whether you are taking your wounds to your head or your heart. In your head you analyze them, find their causes and consequences, and coin words to speak and write about them. But no final healing is likely to come from that source. You need to let your wounds go down to your heart. Then you can live through them and discover that they will not destroy you. Your heart is greater than your wounds." -- Henri Nouwen


"Let Us In"

In the midst of watching parts of "Making the Band 4" today, I caught a glimpse of a vocal coach working with the pop group Danity Kane. For those that don't know, Making The Band is a MTV show where a producer/record executive, ie P. Diddy, travels the country searching for the next pop group, puts them together, and then hopes to make them big stars. Well, my opinion on whom he's found is another post for another day.

I wanted to talk about one of the group members, Dawn, who just asked to sing. The vocal coach wanted to see where the group was in their skill. When Dawn was asked to sing, it was nice and clean. She sang a gospel song. The vocal coach said that was nice ... but he said, "that was for you." He asked her to sing again and throughout he wanted her to connect with the rest of the group and with him. He asked her repeatedly, "let us in."

You could see as she fought to get through the song the second time, the tears started flowing. Her body languaged changed, basically moving into a fetal position. She couldn't even open her eyes. She was self-protecting.

I made note of it.
I hold back.
I've been doing it for so long.
If I give you everything that I got, will I be ok?
If I put my heart and soul into something, leave it all out on the floor, can I live with that?
Can I say I've honestly done that, I don't know.
There may have been glimpses.
There's the fear -- my best won't be good enough. So if I give it to you, then will I be affirmed? Or will you see one more flaw, point it out, and what do I have left?

I'm not big on attention. In my new role as an associate pastor, I'm in the front of the congregation a lot. It's been an adjustment. It was really tough when it felt like every fault, every weak spot, was exposed and I had no where to hide. But I have to do it, and so I fight through it week after week after week. And no one may never know the battle that's won every time I get up, step out and go for it.

I think about relationships in the past. During my time in Kentucky, especially the last two years, I was challenged to let people in. Some days were better than others. With some people, it was easier than others. Moving across the country was harder than I thought. Starting over means for me, who can I trust? Where can I find what I had? Is God challenging me to try something different?

I had a friend who challenged me to go deeper into our relationship as brothers in the Lord. I do have to say that the way he did it was respectful. It was an invitation. I still had the choice to say no. With my background though, it did disturb me. But he met me where I was, we talked it through and I'm grateful. Just from that event, I realized that many others wanted to go deeper with me. With my position and gifting, I hear so much and people let me in and I never take it for granted. But flip it and it's tough. Trusting people is an area of struggle. In time in comes. But I think with some people in my past, it had to be frurstrating. [Now with some people, it would not have been healthy for either of us.]

We're all looking for connection.
We want to be loved.
We want to be accepted just the way we are.

There is a flipside. There's more in us and it's "not for us" but for each other. In an reading an article over the weekend, Ramel Bradley, the point guard for the UK basketball team, talked about his coach Billy Gillespie and how he kept pushing him and the team. He said that there were times he wanted him to stop but he kept going. He wanted to go to the next level with his game. And he was getting there. On Senior Day, Gillespie cried for Bradley and the other senior. They had became better players. They had grown. They were reaching their full potential. I feel the same way when I see people I've discipled change right before my eyes. When they connect with God. When God allows me to see their potential and who they can be, I'm so excited to be a part of their story.

And God knows there's more in me. And other people do too. If I'm willing to learn, "play through the injuries" -- whether it's facing my fears, criticism, or I fail -- then maybe I'll reach my full potential. I'll take my game to the next level.

And just maybe, I'll open my eyes, relax, and I'll let you in ...


The Divine Beverage

A few weeks ago I was talking with a couple at our local Christian school's Thanksgiving luncheon. They were there having lunch with their grandchildren and the grandmother told her grandson that I "left everything for Jesus" and moved to California. (paraphrase). At first I didn't think much about it. My current ministry is a great fit and I'll get to do what's been in my heart for while. So God answered the desires of my heart.

But during the past month, I've been feeling like I'm being called to die more. I'm called to be holy as He is holy. I'm challenged to leave more of the spirit of this world behind. Some moments it gets a challenging as my performance-based mentality wants to make sure God is happy with me and then the fear creeps in -- I know I'm not perfect and I have more growth and integrity to live in.

But recently, I'm starting to wonder if the woman's words were prophetic. In another conversation, a friend of mine reminded me of Abraham and in another book I'm reading, how God told him to go. He left what was familiar and God blessed him. He drank the cup the God offered him.

So now my drink is poured. I've been taking sips here and there. Some times even a good swig and maybe a swallow. I get the leaving the familiar. And with Henri Nouwen's "Can You Drink The Cup?" I'm challenged that to add the cup Jesus offers to my daily diet. The cup that continues to provides eternal life, but I also one that leads to more death. My drink is combination of the good and the bad. My sorrows and joys. Add confession and celebration. Everything that makes me the unique person I am today. And what I gift to share with others. A drink to share with you. Communion with each other. Commuion with our God.

When I think of my struggles and my failues, I think of the thief on the cross who asked Jesus to "remember me in paradise." There were disciples who wanted what Jesus had and they lost their lives. This Jesus, my Rabbi, leads me to a place where the "first easy yes had to be followed by many hard yeses until ... [my cup is] completely empty." (Nouwen).

So I've got to drink more. I can't hold my nose to keep the bitter taste to a minimum. That's cheating. That's sin. I know what it's like to try to make the drink tastes better. Thank God for grace. But it slowed down the process. The cup makes me whole. And I wasn't getting better fast enough. Like an bacterial infection, if you don't take care of it correctly, it grows and builds a resistance, making it toughter to eradicate the next time around. The Blood is strong enough however. And that's what I'm still here today.

I'm here to continue to fulfill my God-given destiny. Live out my Christ-abiding identity. And contemplate "this man Jesus. In his presence ... [the disciples] had experienced something radically new, something that went beyond anything they had ever imagined. inner freedom, love, care, hope, and most of all, with God" (Nouwen). I come face to face with a reality that "asks for the most radical trust in God, the same trust that made Jesus drink the cup to the bottom." (Nouwen)

So I'm working on my drink. Some days I drink more than others. The good news is that God walks with me and encourages me as Nouwen writes, "Living a spiritual life is living a life in which the Holy Spirit will guide us and give us the strength and courage to keep saying yes.

And he encourages you to do the same. May we enjoy our drinks together. May we live and die together. Share our cups together. We raise them up, make a toast: "To the Lord Most High, the author and perfecter of our Faith." And "together when we drink that cup as Jesus drank it we are transformed into the one body of the living Christ, always dying and always rising for the salvation of the world" (Nouwen).


Teacher's Pet

As I reading last night, I was reminded about Jesus being my "Rabbi." Then there's "Raboni" which is "my teacher." I couldn't remember where I saw it or if it was an experience, but there's something very intimate in the exchange. I was thinking about how I'm 30 and I still carry my backpack. Now in a new job, should I get a briefcase? And I'm thinking no. I'm still a student of my Rabbi. I loved my time in college and seminary and the experience of learning. Now I love reading the works of others who share their revelation of Scripture and experiences with God. When I'm reading, the Holy Spirit is my teacher and the teacher:student ratio does make a difference!

As I mentored and discipled over the past year, I noticed how I cared for others. I wanted them to reach their potential, find freedom and wholeness, and it was something to see hope in their faces when I shared with them what God had done and taught me. And so how much more could God want to do that with me during my lessons!

So, with that said, this is my tribute to my Rabbi:

"Our Great Savior" [Words by J. Wilbur Chapman, music by Rowland W. Pritchard]

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Jesus! what a Strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him.
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
He, my Strength, my victory wins.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Jesus! what a Help in sorrow!
While the billows over me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my Comfort, helps my soul.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Jesus! what a Guide and Keeper!
While the tempest still is high,
Storms about me, night overtakes me,
He, my Pilot, hears my cry.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Jesus! I do now receive Him,
More than all in Him I find.
He hath granted me forgiveness,
I am His, and He is mine.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.