That’s Beautiful

I recently read that article about Joshua Bell, the award-winning violin virtuoso who people would pay $100 a seat to see in concert, but played 32 songs unannounced in a Washington D.C. plaza where hardly anyone stopped to listen (7 out of 1,097 stopped to listen), because they didn’t recognize it was him.

True beauty, unannounced. Can I recognize it in public? Appreciate it? Praise it? Or is my praise limited to the things that are well-marketed, rated by top critics, Photoshopped to perfection? I pray to have eyes to see true beauty and to love it, and praise it, and draw others’ attention to it.

 

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Don’t Let Me Forget

 

While we are walkin’ and workin’ and worryin’ and playin’ and bloggin’ and sleepin’… we are always on a big warm rock, in a big, big, cold, dark room we call space, which is lit up by hundreds-of-atomic-bombs-per-second spherical thingies we call stars, which we sure didn’t make, and if they got near us, we would melt like butter on boiled corn. When I see that we are completely dependent on forces outside of our control, like solar heat which keeps us from instantly freezing, gravity which keeps us anchored down on this rock (and other important things), and the O-zone that shields us from being fried chicken (and other things)… remembering these things heals me. It gets my eyes off the sidewalk, off my die-hard agendas, out of self-pity, and gets me moving onto love and appreciation and praise like I was made to do.

ME GUSTA SPACE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sleep and Exercise

I’ve been denying it all this time, but I’ve been wrong.

They help. Tremendously.

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About Failure

Do we really expect ourselves never to fail? Do we honestly believe we will never give in to lust, never use a lie to escape from consequences, never perform less than what is required of us? I’ve done all three, more than I want to admit. But I thank God for moments of failure. They shake me up; they wake me from the delusion that I should make it to my grave having done no wrong. I fail. I am broken. I need forgiveness. I need eleven hundred chances in order for me to completely be rid of a bad habit, because bad habits are still in my blood.

My God is not a God that expects perfection–I put that burden on myself. God expects only that I turn. Turn from folly and return to him. “If we sin, we have an advocate–Jesus Christ the righteous.” Yes, hate your sin.  Yes, suffocate it. Remove yourself from temptation as best you can. Resist the Devil and he will flee. But don’t be shocked when you fail. Instead, magnify Jesus Christ in your failure, and after your failure, because when you return to him, you prove once more that he is the savior and you are the saved–and that is why we can make a big deal about him and not be faking it.

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The Last Five Weeks

-Early December, drove home to Miami and got treated like a king.

-Family and I to the D.R. where the brother got married. LOVED his and Sabrina’s shining moment. I really enjoy the in-laws. The D.R. streets are chaotic and fun. 

-I drove home to ATL with the sis where we played lots of video games and hung out with Bethany friends.

-House sat at Cathi’s for a week, where I danced to a Beyonce song and posted it on YT/Facebook.

-My hacking-cough, which I had since Miami, morphed into a fever, which morphed into physical debilitation–sickness lasting 4 weeks. Recovered now.

-Crystal and friends visited me and brought me food on Christmas Eve.

-Did absolutely nothing on Christmas. Didn’t leave my room.

-Went on a League of Legends/movie/entertainment binge. I regret some of the things I watched that week. 

-Spiritual/mental heaviness covered me for a week. No faith. No hope. No love.

-Spent some time with Timothy and his mom.

-Spent New Years’ evening with Crystal, where we prayed over 2012. She challenged me to go one month without League. I uninstalled immediately. So far so good.

-With the time that’s been freed up, I’ve been free to hang out with Tim. Went to  LA Fitness last night with him and we obliterated our muscles. Joints are so sore today, can hardly bring food to my mouth (it’s funny). Planing to work out there daily.

-Last night I shopped at the grocery store for the first time in a long time. Cleaned out the fridge.

-Went to bed at an intentional time last night.

-Got to work on time today. Determined to get this user manual done.

-Darkness is lifting, I am returning to the Father, the Spirit is stirring in my mind/soul, and I’m realizing that after everything, Jesus is still my best thought/comfort/purpose. It just reinforces one more time that if at any point he claims us as his own, it’s for life–he doesn’t leave us.

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10th Year Memorandum

Almost 10 years (next month) into this faith! I just have one reflection:

Maybe everyone doesn’t need Jesus for them to have a productive, quality, fulfilled life… but I do. Personally, I do.

This is what I mean when I say “Maybe everyone doesn’t need Jesus.” Look around and you will see many different people: Churched. Non-churched. Muslim churched. Liberal unchurched. One common thing about everyone: so many people seem to lead happy lives–I can think of three relatively close friends off the bat–without Jesus or religion. Big world, everyone has his and her own energizers, safety nets, saviors , and it isn’t always Jesus. It can be music, financial stability, a relationship. Even without Jesus, they actually are doing quite all right in life. Of course this is just the outside view, and I could be wrong, but I would place bets on the probability that can people have good lives without acknowledging or drawing strength from God.

However.

Jesus is commander of all. He did make everyone from every generation and intimately knows each one. His father is the source of every good gift, it’s he who sends rain and sunny days on both good and evil, and yes, you will go to Hell if you don’t approach him in his prescribed way.  I’m just saying it’s possible to enjoy all his good things on his planet and not even notice him.

Me? I need him. I’m one of those types that missed the physical fulfillment train, self-esteem boat, self-help submarine–I MISSED ‘EM ALL. Some people say religion is for the weak, for those who can’t get by without some imaginary God to hope in. Am I weak and that’s why I need Jesus? Yes. Does that make him imaginary? No.

My Jesus, he tangibly heals me quite often. Example: I cannot talk myself out of depression. Maybe you can. When I get the downers, I often get to the point of neglecting health and refusing sleep to spite myself. It’s wrong, and I take responsibility for this mistake at every stage. But eventually–not always at rock bottom–the thought finds me: “I want to talk to God right now.” And then I do. I talk, to God, yes the ancient and world-breathing God, in my little dark corner in my room with the lights off. I say, “Father,” and then maybe don’t say anything else for five minutes. But I ‘ll get at it again. “Father,” and then something else, like “Are you just using me for your glory?” or “Why did you leave me?” or “Why did I leave you?” Then sometimes another pause, or even sleep, but I’ll get back, and now the words really begin to flow. Words. Tears. Anger. Remembrance. Silence. Then silent peace. How do I know this is God? Well, when you are down and a friend hears you out, sometimes they can comfort you, and other times, no. But when this Friend, my God, hears me out, I kid you not, I am slain and reborn in my mind. That sick, angry, bitching Brendan literally is crushed, and what steps out of that room is a different being–a peace-filled, thankful, whole person. Every time, mind you. Every time.

When I’ve walked with God, I’ve been fearless. Two years ago I was able to tell the most strong-headed, fearsome guy I know (230 pounds, benches his weight, always leads and finishes conversations) , “You’re a proud man and you need God,” after sharing the gospel multiple times with him. In my first semester of college I told a crowd of peers about Christianity in my 10-minute “persuasive” speech. These days I don’t have the strength to “step on peoples’ toes” with the gospel. I’ve gotten soft–I’ve also stopped walking with God like before.

Nearness to Jesus has empowered me to love and work hard. In this world that runs on selfishness (consumerism), it takes considerable effort to get outside oneself and be someone’s friend–especially if they can’t offer you much in return. I was eager to love and serve people at my church though. It wasn’t compulsive or somehow beneficial for me like some of my service at Bethany (serving was a fast track to community)–I just wanted to bless. Impossible on my own! The last eleven months were me trying to love people without walking with God. Two words: Face and plant.

I’m not writing to convince myself that it’s true. I’ve seen and experienced enough to be sure that no one or thing on this planet is as revitalizing, assuring and unchanging as the God I met 10 years ago. Good food and sleep helps. Encouragement is a boost too. But Jesus has the words of life, and I need to walk with him if I want to live full. Again, this may not be true for friends like Daniel or Amena, but it’s for certain my only way to thrive. I mustn’t forget this. Please don’t forget this, Brendan. Please walk with God.

Happy 10 years, God. Thank you so much for sticking with me when my heart had left you.

 

 

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Made Complete

“To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
-James 1

“If you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  -Jesus, in his lecture on the mountain

“…Our great God and Savior Jesus Christ… gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. -Titus 2:13-14

I never used to think of God as someone who wanted anything, since he made everything and can snap things into existence at a whim. But scripture reveals that he does want something: that his people would progressively get closer to completion. He wants whole people. Pure people. People full of grace who stand like flint against evil. People who love not just their friends, but also others that don’t love or respect them. Does he 100% accept his people because of the transaction made in AD 33? YES. Would we be embraced by King Jesus if we died today, without  becoming as pure/complete as we could if we lived longer? Yes. Our progress isn’t what makes God love us. God’s love for us is what makes God love us. But he isn’t neutral about where we stand today. He wants us to win, and to keep winning. This gets me moving.

 

 

 

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