Category Archives: Jesus Christ

My Testimony

I accepted Christ when I was 7 years of age on a Sunday night in Rota, Spain. I was apart of a kids program called Super Sunday Nights. On this evening we were memorizing verses and we happened to be memorizing John 3:16; “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” After getting familiar with the verse I declared to my teacher, “I want to have eternal life.” She informed me that salvation from our sins comes from Jesus Christ and when we invite him into our hearts he lives with us and helps us by his Spirit. She invited me to pray to God and to ask him to forgive me of my sins and invite Jesus into my heart. I did so as she guided me. It’s funny. I was raised in a Christian home and grew up with bible stories but this was the first time I had ever really understood anything I was hearing. At once it all made sense.

Since then I have battled through many things. I had moved seven times in my life because my parents were in the military. Each time I had to make friends and battle with loneliness and dread. I was the “perpetual new-kid.” Amongst this I sought out the wisdom of the world to confirm what I thought I chose to believe. After many books and articles I would keep searching. It wasn’t as though there weren’t good enough answers; the fact is that I was simply trying to reach God through my own human wisdom. At other times I would pray demandingly for God to come down and perform miracles. I was trying to support my faith with supernatural evidence as if that was enough to satisfy my veracious appetite for “the proof” instead of living John 20:29: ‘Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”’ Simultaneously I struggled with pornography which itself was more of a battle of trying to satisfy my physical cravings. It bled itself out and manifested its true head as a dark “me” attitude.

By the grace of God he has defeated and continues to defeat these enemies in my life. I realize now that my testimony was not so much “from here to there; black & white” but rather “from there and back again;” from innocent-child-like-faith to mature child-like-faith. The skeptic may be inclined to think that I have “regressed,” but in fact I haven’t regressed at all but “progressed.” When I was a child I had received an unimaginable gift from God but I hadn’t begun to grasp what I had received. It was when I was older and a little more foolish that I truly begun to realize just what God has done for me. Through all my doubt and poor decisions God was with me every step of the way. He continues to guide my feet and be my best friend. The truth is that the gospel is simple. In its very nature it weeds out those who would seek God by their own means. In my own life my pursuit for God was a tower of Babel that only after God had confused my efforts did he show me that the way to himself wasn’t through my own brilliance or effort but through the blood of Jesus Christ. Gently he reminded me what I was taught at first. My life now has been a constant pursuit after his Spirit and it’s been my pleasure to find him pursuing me all the same.

Maybe you’re looking for God in the evidence. Maybe you’re waiting for miracles. I would encourage you to stop. Put down the books. Quit waiting on what God could do for you and focus on what he did do for you. The fact is that what Jesus did on the cross was enough for us to praise him for eternity. On the cross he paid the debt of humanity, canceling our sins and earning us salvation, now and for eternity, ultimately reconciling us with God; when we deserved the full wrath of God he took it upon himself to pay the debt that so we may be called his friends. I plead to you on behalf of the Living God to accept his gift. Let your “knowledge” of God drip twelve inches from your head to your heart. A great quote by C. H. Spurgeon sums it up, “Defend the bible? I would as soon as defend a lion! Unchain it and it will defend itself.” Let God’s word fulfill its truth in your life. Quit trying to white-knuckle grace like I did and instead receive it with open hands. Have faith for He will defend himself.

Jake

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The Baptism: Ephesians 5:14

Falling. I faintly remember the moments that proceeded. My memory is still a blur and it will do little help to try and jog it.

Falling. For a moment I couldn’t feel the weight of my body, as if gravity had left earth. For a quiet second everything felt still. Everything was silent. I held my breath.

Suddenly, the rush of wind flew past my ears and I could hear the swells of the angry ocean crashing against the rocks. After what felt like a lifetime my flesh cascaded into the violent waves. Gravity quickened its pace as I fell nearer towards the ominous dark seas. I collapsed under its downward force.

The sudden shock.

The Baptism.

My mouth gaped open as a result of the hit, flooding my mouth the fiery taste; my nose and mouth burned with the vigor of salt water. Its venom struck my pores and my eyes were wide-open. The coldness of its waters awoke my soul like an unforeseen snowstorm on a blistering hot day. With a jolt my inner sleeper arose. I was listening now.

I could scarcely describe what happened next. As if in slow-motion I continued to fall into the depths. For an instant I opened my eyes. At first I was surrounded by utter darkness; a blue so deep that a hue could not be ascertained. I felt it. I felt the sorrow of the earth. The sadness, the loneliness-what He felt. Silence filled my ears. A void so thick you could reach out and touch it.

My sins had buried me here.

I sat Indian-style on the bottom; my arms prayerfully by my side.

An eternity then past.

With my last exhale I began to feel my body rise. My feeble head rose towards the sun as if two hands had gently rolled it back like when the barber is trying to find a better angle or when your mother is trying to show you something. My weight was lifting. Gravity was suddenly upended. I opened my eyes to see the light dancing upon the surface. I could hear the gentle moans of stringed instruments. Each ray of light danced between each other like the footsteps of a ballroom. The music: in time. The closer I got to it the louder the music would appear. The brilliant light could’ve blinded me but I couldn’t look away. With each flicker it would sing the brilliance of its creator; reflecting every tone.

The sound became intense; nearly unbearable. My face broke the surface of the waters. I could hear the cheers of others. I could feel the rays of light. The faint music faded into crashing waves. I smiled that day.

Jake

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Future of Forestry: Close Your Eyes

Promise once it shut you out
You ask, “What was that all about now”?
You and I through rise and fall
We’ve seen the horizon through it all now

Close your eyes this time
Cause trust is all we have tonight
But trust will be forever
Safe your dreams will be
Cause trust will be the light tonight
So close your eyes this time

The house sits stale, it lets you roam
Inside it just don’t feel like home now
I promise hope will pull you out
For that’s love is all about

Close your eyes this time
Cause trust is all we have tonight
But trust will be forever
Safe your dreams will be
Cause trust will be the light tonight
So close your eyes this time

Time will turn this place around
For the man you call Jesus was still a son like you
Sons will spendtheir days searching hard for the things they are made of

Close your eyes this time
Cause trust is all we have tonight
But trust will be forever
Safe your dreams will be
Cause trust will be the light tonight
So close your eyes this time

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Beautiful Eulogy – Beautiful Eulogy

Lyrics:

There used to be a time when we were fine living life with
no particular religious bend. Pretending to be our own Gods
inventing our own system of belief so as to not depend on
anything other than our own self governing consent. Defending
an impending doom with no perceived need to concede
or repent. Presuming our innocence in a sense dissent. The
sting of death was only the inevitable end of everything
we could never rightly understand or comprehend. We used
to fear the unknown until God made himself known and atoned
mending the relationship between God and men. Giving his
life as a ransom for many when he died and ascended and in
that one event the certainty of eternal death was circumvented.
Making a way for the day when history stops and
time suspends. Spending eternity in fellowship that never
ends. We see the greatest expression of God’s love extended
in the moment when those who were once enemies instead became
God’s friends.
How sweet the Gospel sounds to ears like mine. Well acquainted
with pain and strained relationships. Friendships
that suffer from long distances, or even worse they get
severed from something more severe. And He still hasn’t
wiped away all my tears yet. My cheeks get wet every now
and then. Even when I give my best, I know I fall short.
I get scared when the balls in my court. Focussed on, my
performance, wretched and poor. It makes the message more
real when I preach it. I’m not there yet so I’m reaching,
reaching for a goal, to stand before my King and be speechless.
Then, never again, will I question if his grace is
sufficient to cover my sin. Cause death is gone, and all
the effects of, evil and wrong will be conquered when His
kingdom comes. So this is my hope and my prayer. The air
that I’ll breath in eternity with lungs that never fail
me. If it pleases my Lord, and only by Your grace, use my
life till it’s poured out for Your sake. Until then I’ll
remain where You have me, with joy when I feel unhappy. And
a peace that surpasses all my understanding, my life is in
the hands of Your love everlasting.

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Confessions

Lately, I’ve been feeling this incredible urge to get away from people. I feel like I’ve wasted my life sometimes. I don’t want to see how much time I’ve spent watching television or sitting on the computer browsing Facebook or doing other meaningless tasks. I’m tired of living an empty life. I’m tired of seeking relationships that go nowhere. I’m tired of going to church and singing songs while the collective congregation drives past the hobbling man on the street trying to put him out of their minds.

I feel like if this is all life is then I don’t want it. I don’t want the fairy tale life with a wife and three kids and a nine to five job. I want to live. I want to enjoy my work and I want to work hard. It seems like there’s no more wilderness. No place to get away from civilization. With technology people can invade your life whenever they want.

Besides that I feel like our society is lukewarm but were so used to it that we have no idea want the alternative would feel like. We think we’re living the gospel but we can’t remember the last time we’ve shared it. We act like were pure but go home and watch porn.

If that wasn’t enough it seems like the only motivator we have is enjoyment. If we can’t find some way to enjoy something or we can’t have fun then we don’t usually do it. Everything has to be “fun.” Hedonism at its finest.

When Jesus tells the rich man to give everything he owns to the pour and follow him, I think he was talking to us. Sure we’ve obeyed all the commandments and we’ve appear stainless before others but God knows our hearts. He knows the deep down desires we try to endlessly satisfy only to be left craving more. It seems like we’re the rich many.

We hang so tightly onto this life that we loose it. How many of us could give up all we had to follow Christ? That doesn’t mean that we become bums on the streets. We still go to work and we still have things that we own but we make a mission of giving instead of getting.

Its said that giving is better than receiving. As a musician I would much rather write and play a song for somebody than listen to a song. This must prove true it all the other areas of our lives. I’m sure giving away our useless clothes will feel better than buying an expensive brand new outfit. Our lives were meant to be poured out not filled up. Whats the point of continually living for yourself. You’ll never be happy. We as Christians should live for others. The bible says to love God and love your neighbor as yourself.

I either have weird way of loving myself or I don’t know my neighbor. As Christians we should make the world a better place, not add to the noise. Its sad to see the way our economy is heading. I’m not talking about jobs, but the general mindset that we have to getting something. I truly believe with all my heart that the only thing that will practically help this economy is cheerfully, unreserved giving. We shouldn’t steal from the rich and we shouldn’t ignore the poor. We as Christians should lead by example and give ourselves away. Then the world will see what makes us different.

Lately I’ve been fasting and praying trying to get closer to God but I can’t figure out why I’m not getting any response. I feel like I put all my effort into reaching Him but it feels like I’m being ignored. Awhile ago I circled this verse in my bible and I came back to it recently. Have I been letting the oppressed go free? Have I been feeding the hungry and giving shelter to the homeless? God isn’t asking for our works, but if we have any faith at all it should reveal itself in our works. Faith without works is dead.

Isaiah 58

New Living Translation (NLT)

True and False Worship

58 “Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast.
Shout aloud! Don’t be timid.
Tell my people Israel[a] of their sins!
    Yet they act so pious!
They come to the Temple every day
and seem delighted to learn all about me.
They act like a righteous nation
that would never abandon the laws of its God.
They ask me to take action on their behalf,
pretending they want to be near me.
‘We have fasted before you!’ they say.
‘Why aren’t you impressed?
We have been very hard on ourselves,
and you don’t even notice it!’

“I will tell you why!” I respond.
“It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves.
Even while you fast,
you keep oppressing your workers.
What good is fasting
when you keep on fighting and quarreling?
This kind of fasting
will never get you anywhere with me.
You humble yourselves
by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads
like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in burlap
and cover yourselves with ashes.
Is this what you call fasting?
Do you really think this will please the Lord?

“No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

“Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.

“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
12 Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes.

13 “Keep the Sabbath day holy.
Don’t pursue your own interests on that day,
but enjoy the Sabbath
and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day.
Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day,
and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.
14 Then the Lord will be your delight.
I will give you great honor
and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”

I pray that we can wake up before its too late. I pray that we can be the church that God wants from us and that we can overcome the lukewarmness around us. I pray this for myself just as much. I want to be a worshiper in spirit and truth not in name only.

-Jake

Here’s some good Hip Hop.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78MXG7NEE2M

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TR3h2qbJERw

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I’m Awake

Living for Christ is living for true freedom. I used to think that being able to do whatever I wanted was freedom. As long as I got what I wanted I was free. Lately I’ve been realizing how being a slave to Christ is true freedom. Let me unpack that.

The world has all kinds of lures. It has sex, drugs, gambling, etc. All of which seem so fun and entertaining. We are free to indulge in things though once we do we find ourselves ensnared. We’ve eaten from Eve’s apple. In a moment we’ve passed up our freedom for something that will drag us back to it, over and over and over again. If only we hadn’t taken the bite.

At first we chose our addiction. Then our addiction chooses us. In the beginning we weren’t a slave to it, but after we’ve tasted it we’ve become hooked.

I don’t want to live like that.

Living for Christ is like waking up everyday and choosing to be alive. When we enslave ourselves to Him, when we forfeit our shackles to Him, He in turn sets us free. When I first believed in Christ he took my sin and set me free. Like a slave who is unaware of his freedom I kept wandering back to my sin. We need to realize that we’re free. We need to renew our minds. We need to choose freedom.

I want to wake up alive each morning. I want to choose life. I want to suck the life out of life itself. Do not forsake this wonderful gift God has given us called life. Each moment passes and the more we bother with busy work or procrastinate from real work the more like a zombie we become. If we have any true realization as to what God has done our lives we should rip off our lukewarmness and passionately pursue Him with everything we’ve got.

Many people struggle to fall asleep each night. I don’t think that its because of our sleeping habits. I think its because we haven’t truly done enough with our day. We’ve taken our day and tried to just survive it, trying to hold out for whatever is coming to tomorrow. What we’ve actually done is act as poor stewards with our time today. We aren’t given much time as it is. Shouldn’t we do most we can with what we’ve been given?

Is the way your living your life keeping you up at night? Are you waking up feeling empty because your life is full of things that are far from God’s heart?

Jesus says to not live in our past because he’s freed us from that. He also says to plan for the future but don’t live in the future because He holds our tomorrows.

God wants to know us today.

You’ll be surprised what can happen if you truly give all of yourself to God each day. If you exhaust yourself for Him each day he will provide you strength and make you stronger but its people who try to hold onto their energy or passion and conserve it who are the ones who ultimately lose it. Before long the worries of stress and anxiety combined with fears and concerns expend all the energy we should have invested in God. Shouldn’t life be simpler then that?

It is.

We should give everything to God each day, knowing that he is faithful to provide what we need for tomorrow.

-Jake

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Wanting to Hear and See God

I don’t know about you but I really want to hear from God. Nothing makes sense in my life. Lately, I’ve felt this draw to get nearer to God and to become more intimate with Him. Like my entire being is craving His presence. 

The other day I had some things happen to me that have made me very upset. When I heard the news I spent much of the night praying and crying. The entire time I was yearning for God’s presence. I can’t really explain it. I just want my prayer times to be intimate with God. I just want to speak to Him like a friend talks to another friend.

In all honesty I don’t feel much happier than when I heard the news but I’ve been able to use the time to draw near in prayer. Sometimes when I run out of words I raise my hand to reach up to God hoping that he’ll grab my hand.

Sometimes its important to remember that when it seems like nothing is going right in your life that your alive and awake. Your alive in the sense that God has given you another day to draw closer to Him and your awake in the sense that this pain has awoken you from your sleep.

I don’t know what is going to happen in the days to come but I want to use this opportunity to become a prayer warrior. The other day I heard this quote from a pastor at the United Pastors Network conference:

“Prayer isn’t used to support your ministry; it is your ministry.”

I have seen God do amazing things through prayer in other people’s lives and I want to see that happen in my life. I don’t want you to get the feeling that I’ve never prayed because I pray all the time. I’m just trying to come to grips with how much work I need to in this area. Its easy to pursue God like a checklist. “Okay, I got this done today now I don’t need to do it again until tomorrow.” But God wants us to draw near to Him intimately. I don’t know what God means by the word intimate but I’m excited to find out. When we read about people in the bible who did great things we often find the phrase, “the Lord was with him.”

Our power to live out the gospel comes from our proximity to God’s presence. Prayer is that access to God’s presence. If we could only realize what prayer actually is then our lives would turn upside down.

“In a sense prayer is requesting an audience with the maker of the universe.”

Just think about that for a second. Doesn’t that make you want to pray? Yesterday I turned 22 and its my goal that if I do one thing differently this year it would be to pray; more often, more passionately and more intimately.

Jake

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