Monday, January 30, 2012

Adopted Fathers

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin. 

Hope you're ready to enter a controversial subject.  This is completely opinion based, no scripture to fully back up, but I will confess that this was a matter of the heart God has been working on me about, so therefore it validates it enough for me to share it.

So, have you tried to figure out what the title of this blog means?  Adopted Fathers?  Strange concept right?  Like, normally, parents adopt children right?  Hmmm....let's dive.

I challenge you to consider this, that there are a lot of guys that have a lot of sons that they don't know about.  This idea of adopted father is stemming from this quote, "Like father like son."  Now this quote implies that sons look up to their fathers and desire to follow in their footsteps when they get older. So the son without a father's footsteps to follow in, what does he do?  He adopts a father and follow in his.

Hmm..can't miss that.  Repeat.

So the son without a father's footsteps to follow in, he adopts one and follow in his. 

Ok.  So I have a beef--- or for the intellects, a conflict, with culture for this reason.  I feel we continue to communicate things that are slowly and secretly destroying us.  If you've read my blog called Male Dilemma, you have a basis on which I stand about this topic.  The topic of where are all the men?  This blog title was birthed from a revelation I was having about why I was having this certain conflict.  Journey with me.

So for awhile, I've had a distaste for the hip hop culture, for many different reasons.  I remember BET had the Hip Hop vs. America Debate.  And I remember I was tuned in with my foam finger and popcorn ready to cheer on the tomato tossing at Hip Hop.  But as I journeyed through my reasons for not liking Hip Hop, God began to convict me.  We have to stop looking at the bad fruit and focus on the dying trees. Follow this visual.  The bad trees produces bad fruit, and when the bad fruit is eaten the bad seed is planted and more bad trees grow up.  So Hip Hop---or...lets not do that.  Let's say most of the rappers in hip hop are only products of a bad tree that was already produced.  So that ended that debate for me because I couldn't cast blame on the rappers for exclaiming their brokenness in nearly every song, and I couldn't blame my brothers eating it up.  They say sin sales, I mean, they say sex sales.  Sorry, almost misquoted them.  So, that's not the issue here, forget the subject of RAPPERS, that debates over. Instead, I want to blame the lack of fathers in the household.  Now for clarity sakes, here's a little background. 

So, I was raised without a father.  And, subconsciously, I was always looking for a role model.  Again, I was never actually thinking, I NEED A ROLE MODEL, but I was always looking for someone to look up to. Someone I can take pride in, and then to follow in his footsteps.  And as I look back, I can remember my hand-me-down-dreams changing depending on who was my role model at the time.  I remember when I realized I could sing, ooo, I wanted to be the next Michael Jackson.  Loved basketball, oooo, I want to be a basketball player, next Kobe Bryant.  Started playing football.  Man, I want to be like Emmitt Smith.  Even took a stab at a rap career.  (Yes, I know.)  So after realizing that I was BAD at all of these things, I remember being confused---and almost feeling short-changed. Because here's the thing, the world has SHOWN me, no, no one is saying it, but the world has SHOWN me that the people who reach these places in their lives are somebody, and BOY DO I WANT TO BE A SOMEBODY!  I want to be a person of significance!  I'm regular old Claude, average Claude from the projects and a poor family, I want to be important, I want to be significant!  And significance to the world's standards means you're successful, and to be successful you have to do one of these many different ways to become famous or have a lot of money.  So, my list of adopted fathers was, Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Emmitt Smith, Jay-Z.

I remember watching these guys craft and imagining myself doing the same thing they did.  I'd listen to Jay-Z fluid lines and wish I could do the same thing.  I'd watch Kobe's graceful play on the court and imitate his moves on the basketball court when playing friends.  I'd watch highlights of Emmitt Smith and just be in awe, just like a son watches his dad as he works on the car.  And subconsciously I was thinking, MAN, I WANT TO BE JUST LIKE YOU...

My adopted fathers.

So, this thing we call culture and mainstream, oh man, this is why I hate it.  No...sorry, have a distaste for it.  Because what I'm seeing is a lot of little boys without fathers becoming spitting images of their adopted fathers.  Learning lyrics and creating lifestyles by them.  Or every little boys dream is to play in the professional football league, or be the next Michael Jordan.  I see an entire generation of replica's of things we see on television.  I thought about listing, but I don't want to insult.  I just want to offer an, "I understand, I've been there."

Now I remember when God first started to deal with me about a men's ministry.  And I was praying for the wisdom and spiritual eyes of God to know how it actually looks.  What would I say? How are we going to do this?  And I remember God softly saying son, you have to become a true man before you can show it to someone.  So my journey began.  And as all of this uncovering God began in me was just for you...reader.   

Even when I talk to guys that may be falling into this, I don't want to knock their dreams or their role models.  I even dislike the ministries that almost insults them for choosing these things as role models I mean honestly, what do you expect from us?  We didn't have a dad so dang it we chose one.  And of course we'd choose one that everybody loves.  Of course we'd choose the guy that everybody wants to be.  Every kid is super proud of their dad on Bring Your Daddy to School Day when your dad has a cool job.  So I choose not to knock their dreams because I don't want to take away their desire to dream, or their desire to imitate something.  Instead I prefer to redirect their focus.  Like, here's what I've learned.  In my thorough obedience to line up with my adopted father, I recognized that my desire to reach the place they are was because I desired a subconscious, "Son, I'm proud of you."  I wanted to meet Kobe Bryant on the night of me making the McDonalds High School All-American Game, and him walk up to me and shake my hand and give me my props and just, "Good game."  Interpreted, "I'm proud of you son."

Like Father, Like Son.  Is it surprising that we're becoming spitting images of our adopted fathers?  And our only interactions with these fathers are what we see in the media, and of course its distorted.  That's why you have young boys with poor grammar, dressing a certain way, womanizers, smoking weed, chasing hand me down dreams, getting our bodies completed tatted---because our dads are doing it.  I have more to say on this but I will end it here.

This is my burden. And again.  Please don't miss my heart.  Because I understand. 

We just want to be like our dads..... 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Christian Zombies

"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our sin—it is by grace you have been saved." Ephesians 2:4-5

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin. 

The story of Lazarus's resurrection is what made me realize how humorous the Bible can be.  This story is found in John 11.  Even thinking about it cracks me up.  There's reasons why I think it's funny.  Not that Lazarus died, but the different emotions that Jesus went through while trying to get the people around him to understand what He was getting ready to do.  If you haven't read the story, please do.  It's great. 

So, quick parahphrase and context so I'm not just jumping right into it.  So, Jesus is told by Lazarus's sisters that he is sick, who tries to guilt trip Jesus in to responding rapidly.  Jesus waits two days before going to see about Lazarus.  By the time Jesus gets there, Lazarus is dead.  After some dialogue and groaning in the spirit and 21st century skeptics and haters (seriously, read the story), Jesus prays to God and gets ready to raise Lazarus from the dead.  That's where we'll begin.

"When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.   Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:43-45

In this moment, Jesus has raised Lazarus to from the dead.  Lazarus, who had been literally dead for four days, stepped out of the grave wrapped in grave clothes, or his burial clothes.  And at the ending, Jesus instructs him to take off the grave clothes. Why do you think He did that?  You'd think it was obvious right?  

Of course it was.  I mean, who wants to be confused with the dead?  Who wants to still be looked at as dead?  


WE being, Christian Zombies.  

Some Christians are proclaiming to be alive in Christ, which is absolutely and positively what it means to declare Christ as your Savior, but still resembling the dead, or still being confused with the dead.  Some Christians are still walking around like they are dead.  We're still acting like the dead.  Still talking like the dead.  Still being seen where the dead flocks to.  Still obsessed with the same things the dead is obsessed with.  Still unloving like the dead.  Still unforgiving like the dead.  Still cold hearted, ruthless, angry, lustful, etc----LIKE THE DEAD.  This Spiritual dead meaning before we were believers and when we were dead in our sin, like Ephesians 2:4-5 explains.  So, we're still walking around with our grave clothes on.  Remember those clothes?  It was what defined you before you gave your life to Christ.  You were formally buried in your sin in those grave clothes and now Christ as risen you from the dead, just like the opening verse says----why do we continue to wear them?  We're free right?  We're, alive right?  Yes you are.  

So take off the grave clothes.

"You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness" Romans 6:18


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jarred In

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin.

I remember the endless hours of basketball in the cul-de-sac where I grew up.  All of the neighborhood kids would gather at my basketball goal and we'd play pick up games for hours upon hours.  And even in the middle of an intense game, we all possessed the engrained alarm system of being home before the street lights come on.  The quick flicker and soft buzzing always could be heard even among the bouncing of the ball and the trash talking back and forth.  But I remember the nights when we would choose to hit the snooze on the alarm and stay outside because of----them.  Them? You ask.  Them, the reminder that longer days and warmer temperatures was on the way.  Them, the reminder that school was almost out and summer vacation would be soon beginning.  Them, the essence of Spring nights with their captivating presence, made them worth the potential butt whooping for being late getting into the house.  Them, were the lightning bugs (or fireflies).

We enjoyed them.  We'd chase them.  We'd try to predict their next appearance.  That was always the fun part.  And after awhile, one of us got "smart", (ME), and decided to get a jar to capture a few.  That actually intensified the chase because I was actually trying to catch the bugs.  Couldn't remember if it was for me or a girl, but either way, I HAD TO CAPTURE ONE.

And I finally did.

We celebrated.  Share some high fives.  Some envied.  I ignored them and ran into the house to enjoy my capture.  I ran into my room and closed my door and shut off the lights.  I sat the jar on my dresser and watched as the lightning bug continued its flashing.  But, it was different.  The excitement was different.  The joy of it was different.  The light was even dimmer.  I wasn't chasing it.  There was no thrill.  It's next appearance was predictable.  I flopped down on the edge of my bed in disappointment, unsure why it wasn't as cool anymore.  Then my mom called me into the kitchen for dinner only to return to it lying dead in the bottom of my jar.

How many of us try to do that with God?

I went to Saturate this past Saturday, which is a SWITCH Fasting and Prayer Retreat.  And of course, I was expecting to feel the presence of God.  So the singing begins, and I try to pour myself into it, like I always do.  Hands raised, eyes closed, singing loud, ad-libbing, like I always do.  I mean, this is true worship, right? This is when we experience God the best...right?  

No, don't fool yourself.

At the retreat during the singing, I couldn't just find that moment where I was just taken away in the worship experience.  So I went and sat down and just starred at the big screen with the lyrics showing on it.  And I started to pray the lyrics.  And boom, I connected to my living God!  And then it hit me,

"I was trying to jar my God into only moving in me through singing."

I was wanting to jar or box my God in, limit Him, only thinking He can move in my heart through one form.  Just like the lightning bugs, there's an excitment in the contrast, in the unpredicatability.  The lightning bugs were beautiful to me because of the contrast, the random flashes of light with the backdrop of a dark sky.  The lightning bugs were exciting to me because I couldn't predict where they would end up next, and because of that, I could chase them.  Sometimes they looked to be flying right in front of me, so I'd stop and wait for it to show itself again.  And sometimes they look to be flying further away, so I would have to run and catch up with it.  There's an excitement there, an unpredictability.  

If your spiritual walk isn't exciting anymore, maybe it's because you're trying to jar God.  Let's see, what are the different types of jars?  Maybe you think its only during singing, or found in dancing and shouting, or making God proud by your legalisitc movitations to do what's right....and I'm sure there are many others.  The quest is to find what your jar is, and remove the top and free that expectation of God.  Check this verse out.

"Seek, and you will find.  Knock, and the door will be opened to you."  Matthew 7:7. I know all of us are educated, but, I wanted to look up the definition of seek.  And it says, "An attempt to find something, an attempt or desire to obstain or achieve."  So, let's substitute.  "Attempt to find me, and you will find." Wouldn't be an exciting God if we could actually capture Him once we found Him, but that's the point.  We can't capture God.  We can't make Him do what we want. The verse is almost like a dare.  Attempt to find me, see if you can.  I may show you Myself over here, but the next time you find me, I might be over here.

I love God dares us to seek Him.  I love He dares us to try to find Him, because He could very well show up somewhere different the next time we see Him.

So what's your jar?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Letter To My Future Bride

Dear Future Bride,

I already love you.
I know. I know that’s a strange way to start a letter, especially since we haven't met face to face yet. And I bet to you that’s kind of insane right?  But let me explain why I can already say that, because my love for you is defined by my already willingness to die to myself for you. (Eph. 5:25) So basically what I’m saying is; I’ve already committed to you.  And this makes me even more excited about the day we do meet face to face.  And I cannot wait for us to be together. I've been longing for you. And it’s been pretty tough.  I mean, dealing with the distance and the time apart, it’s literally killing me, or better said, breaking me.  It’s breaking me because I cannot wait to be made one with you in the perfect heavenly union. And if you're reading this, already know that my heart is yours.  Even though you may reject me now, I was required to commit to you before you committed to me, but see, right there is where the issue lies.  Because that's why we can't be together right now, because my Father will not allow us to be unequally yoked with each other (2 Cor.6:14). He's waiting for you to fully submit to Him first. And that will test and approve your readily love for me.  And please see my heart, that’s not to condemn you. Please don’t see it that way.  Because I’m reminded of the Garden of Eden when my Father delicately crafted Eve from the rib cage of Adam, and there was a moment where my Father worked on her before He presented her to Adam----that’s where we are right now.  And I trust my Father has selected you for me for a reason because He already sees your value, and I know it is worth waiting for.  God has selected you as a suitable helper for me, so I know one day, we will be together---He’s already promised me that. So I wait, because my Father’s work isn’t done.  He’s waiting for you to make yourself ready. (Rev.19:7)  So when you’re ready, the wedding will begin.  When my Father sends me to go get my bride that would only mean that you have fully surrendered and fully submitted to Him— which would only mean me dying to myself wasn’t in vain.  For that was done in order to make you holy, cleansing you by the washing with water through the word, hoping to one day be able to see you as my radiant bride, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Eph.5:25-27) So throw on the bright and clean fine linen that’s being given to you in this day (Rev.19:8), because your already crucified bridegroom waits.  So again I say, I’ll wait.  Because no man knows the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor Myself, only my Father. (Matt.24:36)  So until then, I will wait until the day I will be able to immediately recognize you, because you’ve finally been set apart, fully sanctified.  And I’ll be able to awe at my bride just like Adam when he first saw Eve and he said, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, I will call you woman, for you were taken out of man.  And I will leave my Father to become united with you, to become one flesh.(Gen.2:23-24).

So this letter is to you, the church.    

Love Forever, Already
Your groom
Jesus Christ.

"I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband." – “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”  Revelation 21:2 & 9