Lost, But Found

a2045781075_10
She drowns me in her deep abhorent abyss. She speaks love and fulfillment. I have never seen such beauty! I admire her beauty so much that it is no longer satisfying. She leaves me with an empty, hollow shell. She transformed into this new beauty! It is even more attractive than the last! I know I shouldn’t give in, but I do. I give in confused and deceived. Yet, the beautiful snake sheds yet again.  Only this time, I refuse to fall for any deceptive beauty. I’m left all alone, broken and isolated in the vast forest covering my guilt and shame with figs.

I wandered hopeless. Defeated. LOST.

Wait.

Amidst the trampling of the enemies footsteps and deceitful noises, I hear something different. No, that’s someone. He’s speaking. He’s quiet. I think He is whispering. Yes! Yes, He is whispering!

He is so faint and I can’t hear because the enemy is so loud! Noises get louder. Full on war breaks loose. Enemies quickly swarm around me. Filling my ears with desperate, enticing pleas.

I’m surrounded.

Broken and hopeless. I fall to my knees. I look up. I drown out the enemies noises.

I can hear His voice again…

I hear Him whisper, “I’m right here. I have been here the whole time. I see your guilt. I see your shame. I still want you. I want to dwell with you. You are safe. You are not alone. You are FORGIVEN. You are FOUND.”

In the peaceful stillness, I’m shocked. His voice overflowing my soul with this deep respect, tinged with utter awe.

“What is this peace? What is this loving-kindness? How? Why? Me? Are you serious? I don’t deserve this.”

“Yes you, Chaim. Come. Follow Me.”

He gave my broken, lost soul purpose. He gave me the fulfillment I sought the entire time. His voice gave my wandering soul purpose. His voice gave me hope. He gave me LIFE!

“Who are you?! What is your name?!”

“Christos. Jehovah Mekadesh. El Olam. Yeshua. The Alpha and Omega. Adonai.”

“I’ll follow you wherever your voice takes me!”

“It will cost you.”

“Cost me what?”

“Your life. Sacrifice. Suffering. Surrender. Your everything…”

“I’m out… that’s stupid. That’s not worth it. Why do I have to suffer? I have to die? No way.”

“…with your death, I also promise you the same resurrection as me… Eternal Life.”

Is Your Faith Telling The Same Story as God?

The Note

During my time with God the other day, I came across a note that I wrote in my Bible alongside of the story of Daniel in the lions den.

Before I give ya the note, understand the the context. A new statute went out and was being enforced among the land that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides the king would be cast into the lions den for 30 days. Daniel knew very well the document was signed and was being enforced, yet he continued worshipping and giving thanks to God. Spoiler alert, he was thrown into the lions den.

But yo, check out this note!
The note said this…

“It’s not the amount of faith you have whether the lions eat you or not. It depends on what story God is telling.” 

My mind went spinning; I was lost in thought. Remembering and relating this to other stories of people in the Bible with the same faith as Daniel but different outcomes. And, you know who stuck out the most?!

Stephen…

Freakin’ Stephen.

Peep this. Lemme tell you about this dude Stephen real quick.

Stephen was in the midst of the gospel expansion. The gospel was beginning to be heard throughout all of Jerusalem and it was because of Stephen’s boldness to take the risk to confront the darkness residing in culture at the time. He decided to be a light by being a contributor to culture and speaking truth to reshape culture. Culture was at war. Still is. But guess what? Another spoiler alert. Jesus declared victory already. He is just being patient to utterly silence the enemy completely so that we can recruit more on the winning team.

Anyways.. back to Stephen.

My dude Stephen was out proclaiming Truth and the darkness inside of culture was being offended and disturbed. People in the crowd began despising Stephen for the Truth that he allowed to flow through him. They began stoning him til’ death!

Same Faith, Different Story

Would you look at that? The same exact faith and perseverance to run their unique, yet similar races, had two very different outcomes.

Faith does not dictate your outcome here on this Earth, but it does secure your identity and eternity for the new Heaven and Earth!

Whether the lions eat you or God commands their mouths to be shut…
Whether the people stone you til’ death or God decides to be your shield…

It ALL depends on the STORY that God is TELLING.

You better check yo’self and your so-called faith. Because you can’t live in two-worlds. You either choose to live in this world that will be destroyed by fire the same way it was destroyed by the flood. OR. You can choose to live being persecuted by this world for the next world being made specifically for you. And you for dang sure better count the cost.

Because the cost may can lead to you being thrown into the lions den and God shutting the mouths of the lions. Yaaaa, that’s dope. How cool is God in that story?!

But, the cost could also mean that you are stoned to death like Stephen. How cool is God in that story?! What kind of God would do that?

Well, you gotta step back and see the bigger story being told because my God is the best story teller out there.

The Bigger Story

While Stephen was being stoned to death by that crowd, guess who was watching and approving his death?

Saul… Freakin’ Saul.

You know Saul. The dude also called Paul who wrote almost all the new testament and had a major influence in the movement of the gospel. Ya, that Saul.

Stephen was setting up Saul and many other’s journeys to expand the Gospel far greater than anything Stephen could have done by himself; but, it took his death to multiply his message. And yeaa, his message lived on. And yeaa, his message was all about God.

Because of the persecution that started with Stephen, the rest of the church were dispersed throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.

The Gospel freakin’ Expansion ya’ll. That’s where we see Acts 1:8 come into fruition.

Jesus instructs us and warns us to count the cost.

So, Count It. 

Is your faith to simply get the blessings in this life and to selfishly use God to get what you want?

Or.

Is your faith to see God’s story of Redemption come to fruition regardless of the outcome?

Luke 14:26-28
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?”

 

 

 

 

The Man in the Mirror

What do you see when you look into the mirror?

Well, first, let me tell you what I see when I look into the mirror.

I see brokenness. I see a rugged, beat-up past full of constant failure that somehow continues to cycle. You see, I struggle with living in fear of sinning… again and again. Because I know I will. I know I will hate the sin, as I should. I know I’ll be disgusted with myself yet again. It is almost as if the guilt never goes away. It is a constant battle that deteriorates my very being. My self-worth continues to depreciate as I act against my core values. My joy is constantly being given to thieves. My voice silenced haunted by my own past.

I HATE looking in the mirror. I HATE what I see. I HATE how daunting he is.

I run from accepting reality; I seek validation and acceptance from the world.  I desperately ask people to pray for me instead of going to God myself. I am not knocking asking for prayer at all. I think it is critical in life to live in community with others. But hear me out… I am saying that my priorities were screwed up. I would run to others before I ran to God and we are told that God is our refuge…

Well, is He really if I continue to run to people before Him?

When I run full-force to people before God, my desperate need to be fulfilled and forgiven… let us call it, my momentum… carelessly plows right into people. And they cannot handle my burden, nor can I handle their burden! God is the only one who can handle the oh, so, heavy burden of mine and yours.

Accepting God’s grace and mercy is the hardest thing I get to do every… single… day! Not only do I struggle to accept God’s grace on my life every day, but I even wrestle with fleeing from repentance sometimes. My sins become my Nineveh. I refuse to go and allow God to fix them. I run from the only one that can fulfill the empty voids inside of me and heal my wounds by showing up in my weaknesses.

For a long time, I would run and choose to stay in my guilt continuing to allow my past to beat me up. What I was really doing was allowing scar tissue to form on top of untreated wounds. This is obviously not healthy. As long as I am stricken with the guilt of my sins, I will be captive to them, and will often find myself re-committing the very sins about which I feel most guilty. The guilt continues to deteriorate my very being form the inside out. I allow my heart to harden like allowing scars to form over an open, unclean wound thinking that covering them will somehow fix the problem within.

BUT… And that is a BIG BUTT because God likes big butts and he cannot lie… BUT…

If I allow and accept Grace into my life, it will sterilize my utterly, deep wounds. If I choose to rip open those painful scars and treat my wounds, grace will forgive. Grace will purify. It might take time and some alcohol on my wounds, but it will purify. My sins try to drown me, but Grace will always dive deeper to rescue me.

When we sacrifice our desire to seek acceptance and approval from our peers, our social media accounts, or anything else that we run to, God blesses us with Himself and fulfills the very desire we slaughtered on the altar. God wants our weaknesses. Yes, the weaknesses that lies so deep within us that we are so frightful of, those ones. We may not even know they are there. But, they are. Or. We may not understand what they are. But, He can.

1 John 1:8-10 NIV
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

My inability to be good, to be sinless, is a daily blessing that points me back to God’s grace through the Gospel. It is indeed, the blessing of a thorn in my flesh. It is like God bounding Israel to disobedience so that grace could be given to Gentiles and the rest of the world too! He wants to show everyone mercy!

Too often I get stuck in my own inabilities, my failures, and my weaknesses. But they are just a liability when I choose not to acknowledge them. I must constantly remind myself that God yearns for my good side (Israel) and He wants my bad side (Jacob). He is the God of Jacob and He is the God of Israel. He boldly tells us that His strength is perfected in our weaknesses. If we choose to stay stuck in our weaknesses, we refuse God’s gift to work in and through us. We are saying no to God whom so selflessly desires to share His glory with us! If we confess our sins and give our weaknesses to God, He may just deliver us to save the many just like He did with Joseph being delivered into slavery to become the one who saves the nation during extreme famine.

It is through the Gospel that I am no longer bound every single day. It is through grace that I have the opportunity of choosing forgiveness and freedom. It is through Christ that God shines his glory on and through me! And, on top of that; it is He who gives me purpose. I get to be a transparent vessel that allows God to shine his glory on me and through me impacting the lives surrounding me! The Gospel changes everything about me and those around me!

God’s grace called me out of the grave. He watered my seed that I dug so deep. It is my choice every day to keep digging and die OR to ask the Holy Spirit to awaken inside of me so that I can continue to grow and sprout. The hard part is, my past has left a rocky trail that I need to go through in order to sprout and it is screaming at me to keep digging. It seems so daunting.

God casts his seeds wherever He pleases. He threw me upon incredibly good soil which I have carelessly saturated with boulders and weeds. My past decisions have created a rocky future to fight, but I know there is hope gleaming through. The rocks in the soil make it difficult for my seed to grow, but I see the hope piercing through my abyss of darkness. It is moving around the dirt in my life. Hope and Grace are creating the pathway for me to overcome these obstacles and I will be stronger for it.

I choose if I allow the rocks to blur my intended purpose to grow. I choose if I will focus on the reward of sprouting and being told, “Well done, good and faithful.” I have faith that through my fight to grow through this rocky soil I have created, I will inspire others to choose to fight through their rocks as well.

Every day you get to accept God’s grace through the Gospel. Do not let your sins and your past leave you in that broken, dismantled grave. Take your focus off of yourself in the mirror and look at Jesus who has created the pathway and your ability to grow and sprout! Preach yourself the Gospel of grace every single day! RISE UP! Reach the surface and breathe!

So, let me ask you again…

What do you see when you look into the mirror?

Do you see yourself bound by guilt, or do you see yourself free with grace?

Chasing The Cloud

The vast, ominous Cloud encircles me with fortified, yet gentle walls.

Its rain containing immersive, graceful growth.
Its thunderous roar reverberates sweet redemption.
Oh, how majestic is the Cloud.

Its translucent gleam guiding my path through this perplex darkness.
Its winds whisper conviction redirecting my meandering heart and mind.
Oh, how majestic is the Cloud.
Its presence so rewarding.

Its relentless weather so vast, yet constant.
In utter reverence, I yearn for the Cloud.
Yet, my lack of understanding allows the entrance of Deceit.

My soul bound by deep caves
In seemingly perpetual darkness, flesh.
Convoluting flesh, swarming my very being.
My vision imperialized, blind to reality.
Oh flesh, who am I?

Further and further I go, away from the glorious cloud.
Concealed in my self-created isolation.
Guilt and shame dauntlessly blurring signs of progression.
Oh flesh, where am I going?

Oh, discontent heart.
Justice will reign down.
Acidic reign devouring the wicked.
Pure Reign cleansing the iniquities of the righteous.
Oh heart, make up your mind!

Why do I believe lies? Why am I unfaithful? Where is my fulfillment? Why am I surrounded? Why am I defiled? Why am I unrighteous? Why am I unsatisfied? Why is this world flooded with injustice?

I do not know.

But I do know this…

You are true. You are faithful. You are fulfilling. You are immersive. You are pure. You are righteous. You are just. You are eternal. You are good. You are holy. You are grace. You are love. You are mercy. You are wisdom. You are sovereign. You are enough. You are.

And I will chase you!

You are. 

 

 

 

Numbers 9:15-23 // Exodus 12:21 // Exodus 14:19-20 // Nehemiah 9:19 // Psalm 23 // Psalm 25:9 // Psalm 31:3 // Psalm 97:2-6 // John 10:3-4 // Revelation 10

Run Towards the Roar!

For years of my life, I struggled with isolation and with locking my heart away from people. I fabricated this intrinsic fortress around me. I did not want people to see my brokenness, my shame, my guilt… my sin. After all, we are to guard our heart… right? There was absolutely no way people would see the deepest hurts of me. The parts that we all keep locked up inside that no one knows about. The parts that you are questioning if I am talking about right now. Yes, those parts of you.

Pain screams in all of our lives, yet we flee as a gazelle aimlessly attempts to scurry away from its haunting prey. One of my best friends sent me a youtube video from Davey Blackburn last night about pain and forgiveness (Check out the video here, it’s worth it). He talked about this illustration of how lion’s hunt. The male lion will go to one side of a watering hole while the female lions will go to the opposite side. The male will let out an extremely loud roar to scare the prey. Let’s say a gazelle.  The gazelle hears the roar and is frightened leading it to flee to the opposite direction of the roar. Meanwhile, the pack of female lions are awaiting in an ambush to attack the gazelle while it frantically flees from its fear to face the roar.

For so long, I ran from my past. I ran from my pain. Why? Because it would hurt too much to endure. I refused to go through it and face it. I ran, yet it always led to more pain and more hurt in my life. It always came back. Running away never fixes the problem. It simply prolongs and even worsens the pain.

Blackburn challenged me to begin facing my fears. The solution is simple, yet courageous. Running is easy. The healing to your pain is to run towards the roar. Composure allays great offenses. Face your pain. Do not stay silent; talk about it. Invite others into your life and allow them to speak into your pain. We are called to live in community with one another. We are called to carry one another’s burdens… So why are we not talking about our pain. We are scared we may damage our reputations. We are scared we might lose our friends. And we are scared our life will get worse. So we choose to stay silent….

Do not stay silent.

As I mentioned in the beginning, I chose isolation for so many years. I kept my brokenness hidden in secrecy. I’ve come to realize that our sin and pain thrives in isolation. It actually enhances it and makes it worse than it really is.

But, when we choose to talk about our pain and confess our sins to one another in a righteous community…

  • We steal Satan’s weapons. His arsenal is dismantled.
  • We gain true, authentic relationships and friends.
  • We are free from our shackles. The weight of our burdens are lifted.

Through years of fighting my pain and seeing and partaking in others pain, I have learned this… We do not get to choose what cross we carry. We get to choose if we carry the cross we are given. 

“Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” – 1 Peter 5:8-9

Pain is a part of everyone’s lives; it’s inevitable. The lion is going to roar. We must choose to run towards the roar. We must face our pain. We must talk about our pain.

It is crazy how many friends I have gained just from beginning to talk about my pain. It is crazy that by doing so, I get the opportunity to hear their pain and even speak into their lives as well. We get to walk with one another and fight our pains together. And it is SOOO much easier and uplifting.

Pain provides us with opportunity to live in community and become more of who we actually are. It gives us a bigger platform to speak on. We all have built up walls that guard our heart. But, I would encourage you to die to your self and pick up your cross (Mathew 16:24-25). Your cross is given to you by God and it is a gift we get to use to give God glory. We need to stop hiding from it and tucking it deep down inside us where no one can see or hear it. Our stories are opportunities for people to hear the Gospel… for people to see Hope again. Choose to pick up the cross God has given you and start carrying it. Talk about the hard things.

And remember, You cannot let God down, because you were never holding Him up. God wants you to share your story.

Derailed People

I walk out of my comfortable house. I walk 100 yards down the street and climb up a small hill to get onto the tracks. I begin walking down the tracks watching my every step not to step on needles and broken glass.

This is some of what I see. Houses made of whatever they can find… trash, torn tarps, ragged blankets, and stained carpets all sown together by duct-tape. They are living in any condition they can simply to stay alive to continue to feed their addiction. How broken and calloused their hearts are. How much love, grace, and mercy they need. The enemy has these people so trapped in their addictions. He offers fulfillment, but it is always fake. It always leaves us isolated and dependent on substances and materials. He derails us from the tracks we are supposed to be on.

Derailed people are so close to the tracks, yet stuck. Stuck with false fulfillment. Feeding on food that fails to fill their hunger. Drinking from a well that runs dry. Derailed people NEED Jesus. But we, the church, are the hands and feet of Jesus led by the Spirit. Relationships are key to showing them how to get back on the tracks. If only we could build these relationships…

In one week, the city is coming in to sweep these tracks clean. Where will these people go? I’m not sure, but I know i’ll be searching where isolation will take them next. They need love and prayer… will you pray with me for these people and this city?

Let’s Do This Together!

Oh nostalgia. I have been reflecting on my life all this past week. Have you ever sat back, and really rested in the reverence of God? It constantly blows my mind of how He works behind the scenes to get each one of us to where we are. Seriously. Think about it.

What did God have to do to get you where you are and who you are with? What did God have to do to get me to be developing leaders and loving broken, hopeless people in Kensington, Philadelphia and in Haiti. It has been my WHOLE life and the people I chose to surround myself with. Every aspect of my life God used to morph me into who I am and to be where I am and to care about what I care about. God either allowed or ordained my physical life to be threatened on multiple occasions; from this I learned the that life can be taken away at ANY second. How often do I leave the gift of life unwrapped? How often do I package myself up and cover myself with beautiful wrapping paper, yet my insides are so hideous?

I know for a fact that I am not the only one who needs a heart change. In fact, I know that ALL of us need a heart change. There are so many people who are out among us who are broken, including ourselves. Desperate… Hopeless… Isolated… people who NEED loved. People who need someone with them. When are we going to WAKE UP and start breathing life into the abandoned? When are we going to care for one another? When are we going to care for ourselves?

I have absolutely no regrets in my life. Our past failures and mistakes are only that if we refuse to process and learn from them. I am so thrilled that I am constantly blessed with grace and mercy to be a part of an unshakeable master-plan in which I can utilize those learning experiences to breathe life and hope into people who are   JUST   LIKE   ME  ! Broken.

Rest in Reverence. Or in other words… Fear God. Reverence is a deep respect for someone tinged with awe. It’s rooted from ‘fear,’ ‘awe,’ and ‘honor’. How can I sit back and reflect on my life and ignore where He has brought me. It would be selfish of me not to share what God has done, is doing, and will do in my life to help others do the same thing; Love God and Love People.

The thing is, I can not do this alone. I need a team. I need you. I need you in prayer. I need you for financial goals. I need you here serving with me. We are called to do this together. We are better together. For a three-cord bond is not so easily broken.

Will you join Breathe Partners and me? We believe the most effective way to influence people and culture is by developing young leaders and empowering the church. And we need you!

I am pursuing partners who will commit to monthly giving to reach financial goals that will allow me to be present with and love on broken people who need hope. It will allow me to make disciples who make disciples. It will allow me to develop the next generation leaders to carry on the church’s mission. It will allow me to set the church up to win.

Will you be willing to give monthly? $20 a month? $50 a month? $100 a month? My goal is $3,330 per month; I am currently at $350 a month. If you are willing and able, please click here and get in touch with me! I would love to connect with you and discuss this more!

Will you be willing to pray for me and my ministry team at Breathe Partners? Our summer is kicking off. We have our students who we are developing as leaders and disciple-makers in Haiti and will be in Philadelphia later this Summer. These young students NEED prayer. My team and I NEED prayer and support to lead these students and teams that come down to holistically serve and ultimately set the local church up to win!

Will you be willing to come and serve? We have many ways you can come and serve… whether that be serving overseas in Haiti or serving locally in Philadelphia.

I would love to connect with you more and I would love to learn how we can help one another. Please let me know how can I be praying with and for you! I want to! Let’s do this together!

Check out our website for more information!

Trashed People

We throw you where we please.

You travel wherever the wind takes you.

We sometimes acknowledge you, yet choose to neglect you.

You not only watch us as we step on you, but also as we step over and around you.

How isolated you must feel. How abandoned you must feel.

Trash. Trash…

How did you become people?