Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My Salvation (Isaiah 12)

I've not written much lately, but here's a song I wrote a while back based on Isaiah 12.
It's been running through my head recently, so I thought I'd share:
God of mercy, God I praise,
turning your anger away
Humbly bearing consequence
to pay the price for my all sins 
A fountain flowing purest light,
a spring of life that won’t run dry
Oh, my portion, God on high,
in you my soul is satisfied 
My strength, my song, You have become my salvation
My strength, my song, You have become my salvation 
God almighty, hear my praise,
You have done such glorious things
All the earth will know Your name,
the thirsty soul will proclaim 
A fountain flowing purest light,
a spring of life that won’t run dry
Oh, my portion, God on high,
in you my soul is satisfied 
My strength, my song, You have become my salvation
My strength, my song, You have become my salvation

in that day...

You will say in that day:

“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.

“Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

And you will say in that day:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.

“Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

how the heck!?!?

Skip ahead to 1:35 for the magic act, and be prepared to say, "How the heck!?!?"

Friday, April 18, 2014

If it were up to me

Dear sir,

There are certain rules, and each person must meet the right criterion before being admitted to receive our services, but I want you to know that if it were up to me, I wouldn't have turned you away the other night.

If it were up to me, I wouldn't have turned you away with just a puny looking PB&J and a cup of crackers. In fact, if were up to me, I wouldn't have turned you away at all.

If it were up to me, it'd be different.

Instead, we would've given you a bed, three meals a day, and some medical attention while you stabilized and spent a good week making calls and arrangements to find a place a little more permanent.

I know that measly bag of snacks couldn't have kept your stomach full for long, those phones call we made to local homeless shelters were pretty fruitless, and I know that those bus directions we looked up to downtown only led you to more familiar streets to sleep in.

You were so pleasant, despite the awful circumstances. I want you to know what an impact that had on me. Even as I sent you away into the streets, you were so respectful and somehow managed to express gratitude for what little we did offer you.

The whole experience moved me. You moved me. And it was powerful.

"Do everything in love." -1 Corinthians 16:14

Friday, April 11, 2014

snapshot 041114 1300 PST

I went to Bate's Nut Farm with Jude E. Pie for a little while this afternoon.

We fed all sorts of animals.


We ate ice cream bars and split a Cherry Coke.

Good times were had.
That is all.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

In gratitude and great love.

Jesus broke bread with whoever offered, sinner or saint, and this included the pharisees.

The pharisees were a nasty bunch, condemning and compassionless, yet somehow they viewed themselves as spiritual leaders. The pharisess didn't like Jesus much because His very nature stood in stark contrast to their own wicked ways, and so, they were always scheming of how to make Jesus look bad.

One day, one of these pharisees invited Jesus to his home. As Jesus reclined at the table, a sinful woman appeared to him. I'm not sure how, but this woman somehow recognized Jesus as her Savior. She wept at his feet, wetting them with tears and drying them with her hair as she applied fine oils to his weathered skin. 

The pharisee was disgusted by this display, and demanded to know how Jesus, one so holy, could possibly allow a woman of such sin to even come near him.

And Jesus' response?
It rocked. He said...

A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?

Naturally, the pharisee responded that the man with the greatest debt forgiven would love the lender most. Jesus told him he was correct, then continued...

Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much"

And here's the best part...

"... But he who is forgiven little, loves little.

That's the boom right there.

Sometimes we skew faith, overlooking the depth of love for Jesus that a new believer, or maybe a believer with a 'past,' may really have. We try to equivocate a squeeky clean life with closeness to God, when really it's our love and faith for God that draws us near to Him.

The greater the debt forgiven, the greater the love for the lender.
And aren't we all in such great debt?

But the pharisee's greatest faux pas, in my opinion, wasn't just how he dismissed the sinful woman, it was how he overlooked his own sinful nature. He failed to recognize and appreciate the forgiveness and mercy being offered to him. He foolishly thought he was too good to need that forgiveness.

Clearly, he needed transformed.
Just as I. And just as you.

And so I challenge myself today, and anyone who may come across this, to cast away our  pride and be less like a pharisee, acting more like the woman in these verses, throwing ourselves at the feet of Jesus, knowing that this is exactly where we belong.

In gratitude and great love.
Luke 7:36-49

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

day made

I passed remediations for the competency exam today.
Hence, I am now competent.

Scary, huh!?

Now all I need to do is get my schedule for next semester in order! I hit a snag last week when a class I need to take in order to graduate this summer was pulled from the roster. Now, the rumor on the street, or in the academic advising office, is that a campus in Orange County is going to offer that very same class this upcoming semester, but there's no word yet on what day of the week its going to be held on. So, as long as it's not on a Monday (when I'm already going to be in another class) it should be fine! That's a 4 out of 5 chance, and I like those odds! But I'll feel better about it after I see it in print!

Then program completion will be right around the corner!

But either way, I JUST PASSED THE COMPS and I'm going to let thoat soak in for a while.

Day made.

Monday, April 7, 2014


Writing prompt: write about your favorite piece(s) of clothing.

I couldn't decide between the two shirts I wore today...

First off, this button-up is all shades of awesome. Actually, its all shades of green, which equates awesomeness in my book. My mom bought it for me at the mall before I moved to CA, so I've probably had it for four and a half years now. She met me for my lunch break at work and I ended up taking the rest of the day off to shop with her. Along with the shirt, my mom also bought me a bottle of cologne that I still have. Every time I smell the cologne or see that clear bottle with green branches on it, I miss her and think about hopping in the car and heading her way for a visit, then realize she's over two thousand miles away... but back to the shirt...

A couple years ago it got torn at work while doing a nasty restraint with a rather challenging booger. My dear friend Connie, who I refer to as my Cali mom, repaired it for me which contributed to it's sentiments.

My other favorite piece of clothing is my Thundercats t-shirt. My wife, Kimberly, got it for me for Christmas one year a while back. Considering my semi-obsession with these childhood heros, it really was a very thoughtful gift, showing how well she knows me and her willingness to entertain my juvenile quarks. As the years have passed, the shirt has become tattered and the logo has faded away, making me love it even more.

If fashion makes a statement, I guess my statement is one of nostalgia. How about you? Any clothing items with some special memories attached?

Saturday, April 5, 2014


It's a whole new side to her, and I love it.

Her garden.
Her herbs.
Her plants.

Checking them everyday. Watering them. Weeding, and pruning. Her hands in the dirt.

It's a reflection of something that's changed in her over the years, something I can't quite describe.

A certain maternalness.
It's beautiful and somehow worshipful.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." -Philippians 4:8

Friday, April 4, 2014

the branches

made anew

"1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. 14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

An Incredible Love

"It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah."

(Ephesians 2:1-6 MSG)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

by grace

Yeah, but...

She has no place to go. Tomorrow, she'll be out on the streets.
"Yeah, but she really hasn't worked that hard here. Plus, she's rude."

She saw her own son die on the news.
"Yeah, but he had to be doing something bad and she knows it, too.

I have been overwhelmed this week by 'yeah-but-statements.'

These compassion-less comments are truly heartbreaking, both for the people these remarks are directed towards as well as those saying them.

Compassion fatigue is real, which only proves that it's not in our human nature to be close to the brokenhearted. When we tend to the hurting for long periods of time, something happens in us. A jadedness takes over and skews our perspective. Things get dark.

But it is in God's nature.

He is close to the brokenhearted.
And saves the crushed in spirit.
And yet He, Himself, is never broken.

God calls us to be compassionate, to love on those who are hurting, but He also calls us to rely on Him. We can do all things in Him, even things that are against our nature, but when we attempt to work alone, things like these 'yeah-but-statements' begin to happen. We reach a point where we just can't continue on and be effective.

It's a major problem in the helping profession, and in life in general: people trying to fix other people all on their own accord, when really it's God's work.

God is good.

He is good to us.
He is good to others.

And He's always near when we seek Him.
No "yeah-but" about it.

So the next time you think you're going to do something good for someone, do yourself and them a favor.
Seek God first.

the lens of gratitude

I've been feeling a little sorry for myself.
Scratch that. I've been feeling really sorry for myself.

Although my competency exam was not a complete disaster, it didn't go quite like I had hoped. Meanwhile, some sudden scheduling complications threaten to postpone my program completion and graduation another semester beyond what I've been expecting. Sprinkle in a few other unremarkable problems that would lengthen this post past the two-hundred-word-limit I've given myself, and you've got a snapshot of my pity party.

But man, I'm blessed.

With a lot of support from a lot of great people and some tough love from my wife, I've (mostly) shaken the blues.

These problems are small compared to many others', and God is big. When I focus on just how big God is, when I concentrate on who He is and how He blesses me, my outlook changes.

I see smiles and laughter, valleys and mountains, encouragement and community, the beauty of creation, and the thrill of hope. And somehow, looking back, the past three days seem a whole lot different...