Ever feel like the strangest most genuine fulfillment comes out of the worst mood or moment?!
Last nite I had one of such things occur while exhausted, hungry, serotonin depleted, and I even had a stomach ache for the better part of the evenin. I went with some pals to Long Beach to watch our pal fight in Bellator 106 – gnarly… I almost wanna say part of my stomach ache was from watching my pal in ring. After the fight (which he won thank God – grueling 15 min. bout), I needed something not so hearty in my belly to try to extinguish the throbbing pain I was experiencing. I went through the usual brain battle of food, locations, accessibility, and timing – I needed to kick this ache really bad.
Bananas – I wanted bananas. Albertsons is close to my heart (or Lucky’s LN rip), but a mile off of my route home, Vons looked closed, and so Ralphs would have to do. Nothing against Ralphs, but I feel that their trust in the average shopper is less than normal when they went through that sticker phase – stickers on everthing got old…+ Albertsons has the ‘no need any card whatsoever to get our price slashes’ thing going now, which my checker Fiona says, and I quote, “It’s the way it’s supposed to be”. Yet I am at Ralphs, and before I even park (at 11 o’clock or so), some guy is circling the parking lot muy rapido and yells at me?! I exit my vehicle calmly and realize he just wants jumper cables.
For a second there my issues of pain, hunger, sleep and such disappeared (I feel like a sissy-lala writing this having watched (sitting mostly) contenders exert every ounce of strength for 3 to 5, 5 min. rounds for the grander part of the evenin). Long story short, cable guy says to me…”You go shop and we’ll be done when you get out”. ? – so I left him my keys and went inside Ralphs. Psyc – I left him the cables, turned out it was his buddy’s car in a party train – good ol’ downtown SJC.
I got my bananas (organic), came outside to find my cables and two beers by my car door…guy threw me a hand sign (maybe ‘peace’, maybe ‘rock on’, or possibly his ‘colours’). I look at the beers… and therein remember that I don’t drink for a reason. I drive home with a few odd ol’ tyme scenarios playing through my mind. I get home and scope out the beers – logo is full on punk rocker orangeman with shades on and I start thinkin of how maybe the beers will help my stomach ache and trash like that?! Then I start laughing, not maniacally, but as it were…how is my timing – I happened to be the one pulling up to Ralphs, just prior to the Ortega freeway shutdown, drove from Long Beach, tired, hungry, and get one of my arch-enemy temptations placed on my doorstep (of my vehicle).
Long as this point has been to make, my need to expound, and maybe even ventilate a bit; God’s timing was in this mess. These beers were a gift of good faith. Not like a white elephant gift you can give away, but an honest to God, “Thanks for jumpin our car so we can go party!” gift. I thought about giving them to this homeless guy I saw in the parkin lot at Ralphs, but he had already set up his sleepin quarters.
Yet…the beers ended up in my fridge. I look forward to giving them to someone else. Maybe my roommates, maybe my new amigo I share a garage with (and often a conversation as he has a beer after work). I felt God’s timing in this in the fact that my weaknesses, and my strengths, don’t ever bring the moments that create the biggest impact in my life – those times that fulfill in only a way that God can, in piercing my heart, mind and attitude to show me there is still good in the world and that the Lord God Almighty is turning hearts to love thy neighbor by passing on good spirits.
Disclaimer: not encouraging anyone to drink if you shouldn’t…just be merry all the same and stoke out your neighbors!
Ever feel like the strangest most genuine fulfillment comes out of the worst mood or moment?!
Been into wordplay lately, so ‘fallappenings’ is like fall-happenings – which seems a lil lame when you have to explain it. Definitely would make sense in person, especially with my comical southern California accent, and absolutamente if you are one of my two brothers. This fall, now living in San Juan Capistrano, California, is vastly different than last year, living in Vancouver, B.C.
However, each new town shares similar findings, most obvious in the ‘new’ factor of ‘place’. I am stoked in SJC, which is close to everything I have ever known on a permanent scale (my beloved folks, friends, beaches, church, the climate which enhances everything listed, and more). Yet I had those same things in Vancouver, some more distant than others (and in a diff. climate mind you), but on a swing scale to the ‘big’ aspect of Canada, they were just as close. As it were, in Canada even the beaches (Van. Island ones) seemed as close as a Trestles mission, because the build up was just as exhilarating and the payoff exceptional. A little comparing perspective…Trestles is a 20 min drive, 2 min look off Basilone (personally pronounces Basil-One (I’m not French, and the Oneders come to mind – a favorite joke of my brothers and I (blood and bandmates))), (back to Trestles) 2 min park, 5 min set up, 5 – 7 min bike ride, and thus follows suit up and time to initial wave drop. Vancouver Island held the same build up, but included a 30 drive, 2 hr ferry (adventure in itself), hr+ drive lets say (to keep all swell spot locations in mind (and in secret)), and suit up with possible hike through picturesque forest (with streams, rivers, waterfalls and general Pacific North West beauty in spades). Mas o menos, each experience felt the same given how the mystery of each very different mission goes.
All that to say, one thing like surfing, either at Trestles or on Vancouver Island, can be essentially shared from either place I was/am living – thank God. My place in either society, culture, country or place takes time to figure out or to make my own. In Canada all I wanted to do initially was set up the hobbies and familiarities that I enjoy regularly (believe me I tried – as I made that 7+ hour trip to the Pacific Ocean to surf after a week and a half in B.C.). Now likewise in San Juan I find myself with an extra hour or two in the day, so I am beach-ward by default. Yet I am returning now mentally to my experience last fall in Vancouver of how my Lord God had other things in store for my new life in a new place.
The people were the reason I was there, and the same nowso in San Juan. I am still able to enjoy the activities I love, but friends, family, neighbors and all, are what God has given me to love and learn from. I had the best and most memorable time with those I shared life with in Vancouver, and nowso likewise in San Juan Capistrano (or my folks in Laguna Niguel:), I have new and time-stood relationships to build and invest in here and now.
A Van pal of mine and I were messaging about waves, dream surf trips, and such the other day and it struck me how much God works through the people we meet in the places we live, for the different reasons we go to – they are the best part of life that I know, and to laugh with others somehow always feels like sharing in God’s purpose (even if through a message where neither one speaks a word audibly). My hat’s off to those who loved me like kin up in Vancouver (and more than kin cause they were kin in many a case!); and to San Juan Capistrano…may the friendships flock like the salmon of your mission centered city. -bt
Moving back to Southern California, more specifically Orange County, has been unreal. Those of you who know me, know that my verbal accentuation on the word ‘unreal’ can mean many things. Such as ‘gnarly’ can mean something wonderful and amazing, or it can be the worst situation ever. As such, moving back to the land and sea that raised me, I have experienced ups and downs. Struggle has been an aspect of life that I have learned to appreciate, although it really stings in the moment. However, I have even in my short time back from Vancouver, B.C., been able to see God lead and stoke on many a level.
Vancouver, and Regent College, was an experience and a half. Over all the word ‘thankful’ is the describe all; yet in the midst of the experience, I felt like Jesus in the desert. Don’t get me totally wrong, I had a blast hanging with my family in British Columbia, as well as priceless friends both from past relationships through family, as well as new pals through school, surf, and kicking around Vancity. I have a million amazing memories, and with that the trials and life lessons that will last a lifetime. God grew me big time, and without my relationship with Christ, I probably would not have made it through two semesters of graduate school (I guess I still need to get passing grades, so hold the phone!). Driving my trusty truck down from Canada gave me time to reflect, and rock out to some Springsteen (he fits any time and place don’t he, eh?!).
Arriving at my folks, I surprised the lot. Got to hang with my brother Blake tons since, and my parents are the greatest; I rushed down here on a prompting to surprise my Dad for Father’s day-love ya Dad! (and thanks Peter for the subtle notion to jam 1500 miles to put a smile on my Dad’s face). Since then, I have been seeing pals around town, working a bit in school and for cash, and keeping moving in general. I know now, as I have, that God our Lord is with us and waiting to show us His plans and His glory, in our lives – once again I am thankful.
I know looking at the history of entries that this doesn’t fit so well, but it is my most recent effort to understand an issue in the church which can bring division. If you are ever sitting in church and look objectively at the time of ‘worship’, hopefully this can allow you to praise God and experience the freedom that true worship allows. [also - this is a lot longer than most entries, so maybe if half way through this, or even earlier, you need a mental(break), please pray and ask God for His peace to understand - or even disagree!]
In our culture today worship to God can be expressed in a variety of ways. When the general public thinks of ‘worship’ it most often is associated with praise through music and vocal song. More so for Christians praising God in a time set aside as ‘worship’ is where we most deliberately look to honor God corporately as His body, the church. Living in Christian circles both in California and Vancouver, B.C., it has been my experience that a time of worship can be expressed not only as ‘for God’, as much as ‘for us.’ How do we determine our true heart intention and motivation in worship? When are we seeking to honor God or satisfy ourselves? If worship is not a time to feel blessed and emotionally and spiritually satisfied, when can we have that time? I hope to look at the proper direction for worship by assessing our motives for experiencing God in worship.
When worship becomes about us it loses its purpose and God is not honored; when we worship ‘for us’, we seek to satisfy our emotional and spiritual voids. This is easier said than properly executed in a God honoring way. If I add up all the times I have most felt God’s presence (or His touch), it would mostly be in a time of praise worship. There is something about singing to God with others, with music, that seems to invite the feeling of our Holy Spirit’s presence. “The Holy Spirit is certainly often referred to as the agent of divine power in and among believers, and as the mode of divine enablement and presence specifically in worship.” So when that feeling or sensation of God’s presence rests on us, what do we do with it? Should we seek His presence more? Absolutely! Yet, we must be careful to do it with a heart for praising Him, and not expecting a feeling or confirmation from Him.
When is someone truly experiencing the touch of the Holy Spirit, and not just some emotion from powerful, moving music? If there is an experience that can be explained as ‘God’s touch’, and how can this even begin to be assessed!? “There are no tests agreed upon to establish genuine experiences of God and distinguish it decisively from the nongenuine. Indeed, many theologians deny the possibility of any such test or set of tests.” It is my word against theirs when it comes to truly experiencing God’s presence. This seems also an awkward and unsubstantiated argument. The point of worship is not to walk away on a spiritual high, but to offer something back to Him because of what He has already done for us. One person’s interpretation of encountering God says, He sheds His sweetness inwardly, but He does not make His beauty manifest… The soul, then, can verily feel her Beloved in this state, but, as has been said, it is not permitted to her to see Him. She [the soul] knows what He is, indeed she even tastes Him by the divine contact, of which the mystics speak, and which is a supernatural knowledge whereby the soul knows what God is; not from having seen Him, but from having touched Him. With experiencing God’s presence, it is the most mysterious experience ever addressed, questioned, and especially felt. Many things come into play with the simple phrase, “I felt God’s presence.”
It is also more common than not for a person without a relationship with Christ to begin his/her walk because of a spiritual experience. This is personal for me, because it really happened. What did I feel? It was the most pure and lovely moment of my entire life. It was as though I was stained with filth, hate, and everything vile, only to be a moment later completely clean, at peace, and filled with love. When I read passages like that of Paul’s in Galatians 5: 16- 26 in comparing the acts of the sinful nature and that of the fruit of the Spirit, I see the best Biblical wording for what God’s Spirit feels like, as well as what others might observe in tangible form. So in this fashion can we compare the experience of God’s touch in worship?
The best biblical explanation is from Paul in Ephesians in 5:18- 20 which reads:Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. So the purpose of praising God in worship is not to get a feeling or sensation, but to “sing and make music to the Lord…giving thanks to God…in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. In response to a crowd that found Jesus after He fed the 5,000 in John 6: 26- 27 “Jesus answered, I tell you the truth, you are looking for Me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval.Are we seeking a feeling, like people who ate and were filled, or are we seeking Jesus? In the urban church, the conflict about ‘fired-up’ worship is about the future as well as the past. Change is promoted in the name of young people, to draw them into worship that seems more congenial to them. People said: ‘This church is going to die if something doesn’t change.’ The ‘fired-up’ style is a promise to the young people in that congregation that what happens here has everything to do with them, their hopes and dreams.
The culture has changed since the early days of the church, and in the last 60 or so years the music has changed drastically. The current musical worship is loud, full, passionate, and often up-tempo. This can be a joyful sound on all accounts, even if only certain ears are acclimated to praise God in this way. God is definitely not limited to one type of sound; however, He is more concerned with the heart and the motive. John 4:23-24 says,
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.
The focus from Jesus point of view is not the type of worship, but how it is done from the inside of the person worshiping. Who knows our hearts, but God? We as fellow Christians of one another can see the fruit of the Spirit in each other’s lives, but we cannot be the judge of what someone else experiences of God when worshipping Him.
God is not limited either in when or how He truly touches people with His Spirit’s presence. I had a pastor who had an experience of healing when he was insisting that he be taken to a hospital immediately; he did not pray for healing, nor in the moment did he think or act to engage God, my pastor was simply healed. In worship is it different? Our part in it is to praise God, and do it with a true heart; God’s response to our worship is up to Him if He wants to lavish us with sensations of euphoria or emotion; we must also not doubt His presence in our worship if we do not feel or experience ‘His presence’. I personally love current, lively worship, but I often feel most touched by God when my emotions are jarred praising God through old hymns with words that most relate to my perspective. To me personally, the feeling of lively music through jamming guitars and pounding bass and drums gives me a feeling that I have felt in concerts from my before Christ days. I like the feeling that it stirs in my blood, but I am careful of what I take for feeling God’s Holy Spirit, and my own adrenaline. I have to be more conscious in lively praise worship to praise God and not to dwell in my physical state and concert style euphoria that I also love so much.
Wanting to feel God’s presence through His Spirit is a good thing. But thinking that we are the ones who bring on His presence is a mistake. Having a true heart to worship God is key, and a desire to be close to God is a good thing, but we should not be unhappy when we are not ‘touched’ by His Spirit in a tangible way. The acid test for whether we are worshipping God correctly is not what we experience in response to what we give Him. “Mozart’s music was the one human endeavor that Barth was prepared to admit could bring us closer to God – something that greatly puzzled him.” For Barth, Mozart brought him closer to God, but that is not the same for everyone. For me Mozart is good white noise when I have to read a book. I have been oriented differently in my experiences of music and I prefer worship songs that express my awe and wonder of God. “Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully and shout for joy.” (Psalm 33: 3) Being a musician I can appreciate skillful music and lyrics that allow a person worshipping to sing honestly and to engage God wholeheartedly. In this way, I believe praise music can be done in full spirit and in truth, as Christ said true worshippers will do.
For people in the church or out in the world, they want to partake in activities which fit their needs and desires. The fact that God can be worshipped not only in music, but in work, play, etc. is proof that He does love all our unique approaches to giving Him our best offering of praise. The problem for us is that we see things mostly from our own point of view. With Christians, “They desire to worship God in the way they’ve become accustomed. So moving them into a worship gathering that feels different, looks different, and has different values is not easy to do.” Can I join in some church’s worship with a style separate from my own liking and still worship the Almighty God? Definitely! The setting makes no difference. Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns in prison when a violent earthquake happened that caused doors to fly open and chains to fall off!? (Acts 16: 25- 26) What a rush; adrenaline must have been pumping! Biblically, we are called to worship in spirit and truth. With music or any form of worship, it should be done for God, and whether we feel His presence of not, we must still praise Him. It is my hope that we can come with a true heart to praise our God regardless of how we feel in response.
When I started attending the Regent College here in Vancouver all I could say was that I felt so far away from the life and place I knew and grew. After about a month I had a major moment with God as I started my day a little different and with an old but recommended plan (thanks Pastor Stephan!) to incorporate a ‘Jesus hour’ into my day.
This hour would unfold as I prayed outside while writing voraciously, read some Scripture (and prayer/wrote some more) and just observed the community of mainly canines that occasionally approached my (thanks Yigger!). I was at Spanish Banks overlooking downtown, Stanley Park, and the North Shore, and was in tears for most of the hour.
It was incredible and so necessary for my commitment to a school semester that I was apprehensive about because of the scholarly caliber; but I was greatly encouraged by the opportunity because I have amazing family in the area and grand family friends. These people were crucial in my move to the great white north, but my home still felt like it was left in Orange County, California.
God’s Spirit touched me big time that day and assured me that He is my home. And I tell ya I have never felt so at home in my life! Of course I am careful of sharing this when I tell someone in the area where I am from or especially crossing the border into Washington on occasion where they frequently ask, “Where’s home?!”
This experience of encountering God in an oddly unfamiliar place (although I have deep family roots!) has given me an astounding assurance of Jesus’ presence in and with myself. At home in Laguna Niguel I was comfortable, and my wonderful folks and unreal friendships were my major support. I was always seeking God, but when it came down to depending on Him, I often went to the beach or called someone to get prayer. Up here, although I have totally supportive and loving family and friends, I had to depend on God for my home-style comfort-spot.
Thanks for pressing my needs to be You my Lord Jesus! – I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. – bt
It is weird to get frustrated when you have too much time on your hands. I try to stay busy just to occupy my mind, or else it just runs (unless I am staring at the ocean). This week I am not working for the school district because it’s spring break, which is nice and also for some reason daunting. I was able to do a surf lesson yesterday which was good and some work for my folks, but for the most part I think I should’ve prepared better for the time off!
Today I set a couple things up and got to meet with some pals and drink some coffee (decaf for me). Was outta the house all day so brought some grub and some things to keep me interested, including some books, mainly all the good news. In spending time praying, waiting, and reading, I saw God reveal my thirst for fulfillment to a much greater degree.
I know He is the only one who truly satisfies, and today that was apparent. In every instance today where I had opportunity to share Christ in conversation with pals, or even just praying for someone while talking with them at the Tucker Tire, I began to realize (yet again), that my primary focus has to be Jesus.
Every time my Lord came up in conversation my attentiveness turned on big time. It wasn’t that everything else we were talking about was not interesting; it just seemed like I had a fever, and the only prescription, was more Jesus. I haven’t been in a place of slowing down recently to notice what I have really been craving. I have been way to busy trying to occupy my short attention elsewhere. Again I am thankful that God is at the helm in my life, and that He reminds me when I am off course (I guess I am the vessel).
Had a good morning, got in the Word, got some things done, and had good people to visit today. Then 20 minutes ago my mood flipped and now i don’t wanna do nothin – not even write good (well). Such a drag.
With me i have to be aware of several factors that can effect my well-being. First, now a days diet has been crucial; found out i was allergic to gluten a year + ago, so the bite of flour filled Mrs. O’Leary’s Chocolate Cake (which i wanna say was totally worth it) might have flipped my mood (I have some psychological chain reaction that translates: moody, depression, anxiety, and such).
B: i told my family i would play a song i wrote for them. I tend to build things up, and then think twice. I did write a song, a song i like, but after expressing to people how awesome it is, then you go practice it, and you realize everyone will be listening, and have their own opinions. My folks have always been super supportive of the music i and my friends play, but the guitar is not my best, and i just got this bad mood. Plus i can be super critical of things I do, whether music, skateboarding, anything even down to what i wear.
I could go on and on about issues i have, but you get the point – this mood has floored me, and i need a lift. God please show me that way out, so i do not have to give in to the tempting powers that just tell me to bail out on all my obligations and get lost for a while. Sometimes ya just don’t feel like you want to anymore, and Jesus I need you. I think our good Lord appreciates our honesty.
Tuesday Morning, a sweet song by the Pogues. And yes Pogues post Shane MacGowan, but ya know what, they still got it and write amazing songs, which is what i believe music to really be about. Yet that is another topic altogether.
This Tuesday Morning i find myself at home, waiting to take my next dose of antibiotics, hoping that this sickness flees sooner than later. I got back from my first True Life Direction sabbatical/extended encouragement session, and saw God do amazing things (which i am eager to write about once some dust settles). When i returned to the mainland, I started re-pursuing a job at Adult Transitions in the Bridges program (extended education for high school students). I saw this as a perfect fit for me but I think our good Lord knows best.
Having to swallow pride or confidence or whatever is a drag, but after feels so right. I, like most others, like to feel minimally in control of my life, or at least feel like i manage most parts of my existence well. Having to submit to a sinus/ear infection or whatever i am dealing with just knocked me into a depressed mood that totally took me out yesterday (full on K.O.). I haven’t felt like my bed was the only place i could dwell in somewhat comfortably in a long while – like years. I didn’t want to look at the waves, i sure wasn’t going to call anyone, and i didn’t even want to listen to music (which i have been enjoying big time).
I needed to be kicked down by illness. I needed to restart. I needed to read a verse today in Romans 8: 18, “For i consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” All in all i again needed a new perspective on what is important, and what i should not worry about, but should give to God.
Yes a real swick (sweet n sick) band that i have a place in my heart for, but more so the literal interpretation as in: something died on wednesday. Had an interesting last couple days with many ups and downs. I have been filling out school apps (some of the content recently posted on T.L.D.), applying for a job i really want (please pray), dealing with pressing family and friend needs (praying and love you!), and generally not feeling physically all that great (drag). Yet my God is bigger.
I was handling everything f.i.n.e. (interesting acronym), until the moment my strength gave out. I now do ‘reserved’ spirals instead of full on black outs. I kept my sobriety, felt the pain, and was able to sit with an angel and be strengthened and rest assured that God is God. He knows the beginning from the end, my life and yours. His timeline is not linear.
It took a breaking point for me to learn and start over. Kinda like a video game, when you mess up right off the bat and then just restart the game because you want a higher score -psyc, that analogy is horrific – i guess truly i want to be someone people can depend on, especially those i love; and i also want to help others to know the love and grace that God shows me.
God has presented me with a unique opportunity to go spend time with a pal who is gettin set up in Maui, after doing a stead out here in Orange County. This has worked out so well on paper and i believe God is totally backing it, but the spiritual opposition of the enemy has been heavy. This is always gnarly, but encouraging in that you know God has something important cookin that you get to be a part of, and the devil doesn’t like it.
The band Death on Wednesday was as genuine as rock n roll gets; but one of their band members got into a band later that rep’d the Lord hardcore; they had a line (from a Bible verse) in one of their songs refering to the devil…”one thing, before i go…put the devil in his place…that place is underneath your feet…so stomp him in the face!” Obviously the way to ‘stomp the devil’ is through resisting, so he will flee, and clinging to our Lord and focusing more on how to love God and others (and then the devil and his scheming shenanigans don’t really seem to matter).
So to wrap all this up – cling to Christ, resist the devil, and in the meantime just hold on – God is with you and loves you more than you will ever know, just allow Him access into your busy life. Death on Wednesday – again crucifying my flesh (dying to self) and trusting God with the rest.
Another aspect of life that our LORD has altered is my physical well-being. Along with battling mental depression, our Lord has used injury to draw me closer to Him. Eventually responding humbly to pain (and seeing the right doctor) has motivated me to discipline my diet and exercise. My ‘temple’ has never felt cleaner.
Diet has benefitted my mental state in extraordinary ways I never saw possible. Turns out I am allergic to gluten. Mood swings, depression, all that stuff went from 50% of the time down to maybe 3% or nearly nothing! I never correlated my gut and brain so closely linked; now it is a no brainer that food transfers into fuel for my brain (and no one wants bad gas in their tank). I scare myself when reminded of enduring through mental allergic reactions for 27 or so years!
Exercise has been especially key in helping physical pain, although good diet contributes huge to less pain as well. I haven’t done much strength training, just mainly stretching and balance exercises. These exercises have aligned my body and lessened pain that I had for over a decade in my back and shoulders. This lack of pain has allowed me to enjoy again activities I love like skateboarding and surfing.
Witnessing God shaping my life has always been my favorite thing to look back on. I love what He has me serving in, whether at church, in the community, workplace or relationships. I worry very little about what is next or why things happen; I know that God has the plan and I can stick close to Him. Liberty in Christ has allowed me to live free daily. Jesus’ Spirit has comforted and found me. I hope to love Him better before glory, and to be used by our God to lead other lost souls to Christ.