Well it’s been a minute since I last posted but I’m still here!

The purpose of this post is to officially announce that I am starting a video series on YouTube! I am dubbing this series, “Behind The Wheel” as its content will be me sharing thoughts and reflections about life and spirituality as I drive places (don’t worry, the camera is safely mounted and operated hands-free; however, I make no apologies for camera-shake… seems an unavoidable by-product of being mounted on the dashboard).

I started doing this on IGTV at first and will probably continue to post episodes there also. However, I am taking this as an opportunity to begin regularly posting content to YouTube as well.

So without further ado, I present Behind The Wheel, Ep. 4.

Originally posted on The Way CA blog at https://thewayca.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/set-apart-to-the-dance/. Be sure to visit and check out some of my friend Ben’s material there as well!

Ever heard of the word sanctification? It’s a big fancy word that basically means “set apart.” Many people also explain that it’s an idea of being set apart from one thing and set apart to another. This is the essence of the term “holiness.” After all is said and done, I like to say that sanctification is a dance made complete by our participation.

“The Dance” of sanctification is never done. It was never intended to be either. The Dance isn’t measured by how far along you are, but by whether or not you’re willing to dance. It’s less like a letter grade on an exam and more like a pass/fail sort of thing, and if you’re willing to dance, you’re passing.

The Dance is between you and Jesus and if you’re not willing to participate, the Dance isn’t happening, it’s not complete, it’s not perfect. We may have our internal struggles about how the Dance takes place and we might even trip while trying to execute the moves. There will always be a process of maturing and that’s okay. However, while there is a process of maturing in our ability to dance, actually Dancing is not that process.

The Dance is all about living fully present with the Spirit of God inside of us convicting us, teaching us, comforting us, wooing us. It’s about messing up and repenting, matching our steps up with His to jump back in. It’s the experience of God’s holiness in us and our agreement to express His holiness through us. It’s about our willingness to say “yes” rather than our capacity to sustain it.

We can never arrive at a place where God no longer needs to sanctify us because sanctification isn’t something that you can build and then leave alone to remain in tact. It’s something that exists or emerges by nature of being in the presence and service of another. What’s maybe even more important however is that God can’t help but sanctify the people He hangs around. It’s His nature to sanctify.

Let’s take a look at one of my favorite verses, Hebrews 10:14:

  • “For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy.” (NET)
  • “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” (NASB)
  • “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (ESV)

There’s a LOT we could talk about in this verse, but I just want to look at the end, the part on sanctification. Rather than jump through a bunch of intellectual hoops (which we definitely could) I want to take a linguistic shortcut and rewrite this verse by putting the verb at the end into the active voice: “For by one offering he has perfected for all time those He has made and is making holy.”

By re-writing the verse this way, it’s a lot clearer that this verse is making a beautiful statement about God being a God who sanctifies. Holiness is a continual experience because God has been and still is involved in it. His nature is unchanging because He has sanctified before and still sanctifies today.

Is God making you holy right now? If so, that’s good news because this verse says that anyone who is being made holy is covered by Jesus’ sacrifice. Anyone who is learning the steps of the Dance, participating in the never-ending movement and growth, is perfect in God’s eyes.

One of the most beautiful aspects of this to me is that the moment of “now” is always a new moment which we have to sanctify with God. According to the eyes of experience, the present moment is always a new moment that is filled with God’s sanctifying presence because of His Spirit in us. If He were to ever change, then there could potentially be a moment in the future where we would no longer be sanctified; but because He never changes, we are always sanctified.

As I said earlier, the entry price of Dance itself is not about our process of growth but our willingness to say “yes.” It is an ongoing experience of the result of something that is fully complete. In Hebrews 10:14, we read that the finished work of Jesus on the cross defines everyone who says “yes.” Jesus’ sacrifice was the creation of this Dance and it continually flavors our relationship with perfect love. As we Dance through different seasons of life, we experience how holiness reacts with and shapes different parts of our lives that weren’t touched by the Dance before. We begin to say “yes” with every inch of our hearts and come into a perfect awareness of our already perfect reality.

Thankfully, a “perfect reality” doesn’t mean that we never mess up, but that we stay in connection with the Holy Spirit through thick and thin. It’s about our ability to participate rather than the level of our participation. It means that we keep our gaze focused on the fact that at all times and in every way it’s all about Jesus.

I leave you now with this summarizing thought from the brilliant Graham Cooke:

Yep, I feel like God was using the movies recently to prophesy His intentions for us in 2017. Specifically, the new Rogue One Star Wars movie had wave after wave of Presence on various aspects in the plot. Here’s what I believe God wants us to know, cling to, and rejoice in this year, as conveyed through a movie!

* God is breaking in suddenly and setting free people who have gone through trauma or deep loss in their childhood. This will be a turning point where these people will begin to see how God is working things together for good to redeem their story.

* If you are one of these people who suffered trauma or deep loss as a child, you have the ability to give hope to those who are in the midst of suffering now. Your willingness to engage with society and fight on behalf of the oppressed will ignite hope within others that reaches far beyond your direct sphere of influence and outlives you for years to come. In other words, your choice to hope in spite of your past will empower others to choose hope in spite of their present.

* People in authority may not listen to your words, but people of influence will be drawn to your lifestyle and the people of authority will follow what you initiate among the people of influence.

* This is a time for you to be true to yourself, know your story, and not apologize for who you are – wounds and all. Your honesty about what’s going on inside of you will allow trust to flow both ways in your relationships with others.

* In the midst of this season, God wants to get a message across to you: He loves you as a Father, not a day goes by that He doesn’t think about you, and He has always had your best interests in mind.

“Wow, this is deep,” I mused.

I find myself enraptured by the words I read on the screen, when the inevitable moment arrives: I disagree with the author.

“No, that’s a horrible way to look at it. This is exactly the mindset that irritates me about people today.”

Then I remember a crucial detail: I’m reading my own posts from 3 years ago. At some level, I wonder if this points to growth. It surely shows change of some kind… I’ll just call it “growth” for now.

This is the quote in question: “Yet, before we can see the wholeness of God, we must first be confronted with the utter brokenness of the world and feel the painful despair of knowing that we are powerless to fix it.” (If you’re curious, it comes from this post.)

You may have heard this same idea phrased in terms of light and dark: “You don’t know the value of light until you’ve experienced darkness.” The problem is that since dark doesn’t technically exist, but is only a term to describe an absence of light, the root issue of not valuing light is a one of perspective and insinuates that if you don’t value light, it’s because your perspective actually values darkness. While it is possible to learn to value light by experiencing its lack, it’s also possible to learn to value light by experiencing a greater measure or intensity of it. Say for instance that you were sitting in a room lit by 800 lumens and then turned on another light which brought the level up to 1,200 lumens, you could say that the increase of light revealed that you had only known darkness before the increase (pessimism) or you could say that the increase of light revealed to you a more marvelous reality of the power of light (optimism). Thus “darkness” becomes relative to your experience of light. There is no such thing as darkness, only a perspective that values diminishing light (that is, centered around measuring visibility in terms of how much light is missing from the environment and evaluating what you can’t do because of this lack, which is the nature of pessimism).

Bringing it back full circle, there is no such thing as brokenness (which I believe is nothing more than a perceived lack of the desired level of wholeness), but only a perspective that is centered around the concepts of brokenness and despair. In any situation, I believe you can see brokenness getting in the way of healthy and functional systems, or you can see wholeness promoting the growth and betterment of the same institutions. You can pinpoint areas of lack and problems, or you can pour effort into increasing the efficiency and health of the good things that are working. The two perspectives are not getting at different issues, but are approaching the same thing from different angles.

The thing about the pessimistic perspective I’ve described that irritates me is that it encourages you to actively look for problems and exerts an emotional gravity that sucks you into cycles of hopelessness, despair, and frustration. The pursuit of problems can eventually lead you to ones that seem so big and so powerful that you feel utterly insignificant and powerless. It leads you to experience a reality that often defies the facts because you are emotionally compromised. Without the realization of a powerful and loving God who is committed to your deliverance, this realization of insignificance is an emotional dead end.

However, if you are somehow convinced of the reality of a God like I mentioned, something must fundamentally change in your perspective. To continue looking for bad things in life is an activity that is incongruent with the assumption of an all-powerful, loving God. If you live from a pessimistic perspective, your actions reveal a belief (perhaps even a subconscious belief) that God is not good, uninvolved in your life, not willing to help you, or other similar ideas.

Optimism can also cause you to become emotionally compromised, but in a way that enhances your ability to act, connect with others, and flourish. It can lead you to experience a reality that defies facts by convincing you of your power to change things through a commitment to your internal values and practicing boundaries that keep unhealthy thoughts out of your heart and mind. It leads you to celebrate life through engaging in it, rather than withdrawing from your circumstances through criticism.

Coming back to the quote (from my own mouth!) that set me off in the first place, I believe that what I’ve said is correct as long as it’s interpreted as a descriptive statement rather than a prescriptive statement. I don’t want to tell anyone that they have to be aware of darkness before they can value light. As long as you’re aware of what’s changing, that’s what matters. It can be viewed as brokenness causing pain or as wholeness advancing peace, but don’t make your perspective into a prescriptive stance on life. Use it to celebrate the possibility of change. Use it to enjoy the present. Use it to subvert reality and make circumstances your playground rather than your prison.

If you also happen to confess (as I do) that God is loving, all-powerful, and engaged in your personal life, then I want to encourage you with the thought that you are a Divine detox agent. Your positive confession of who God is creates an environment where negative thoughts and brokenness become consumed by righteousness, peace, and joy. The intensity of your detoxifying effect is determined by the singularity of your focus on God’s power to raise the dead to life, as shown by the life of Jesus who is the firstborn of the dead, and your choice to remain fully convinced that God wants to make you like Jesus.

Basically, life with God in view is wildly optimistic because the nature of His being is goodness. I don’t have any more time for negatives.

IMG_1733

Is the sun coming up or going down?

To me, there’s something mysterious about the period of day we know as twilight. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the morning twilight or the evening twilight, because both represent hope to me. Something about having the sun below the horizon yet still radiating its light across the sky gives me assurance that there is still hope. It could be an analogy for how though I cannot see the sun, I can see evidences of its existence—kind of like Jesus’ illustration to Nicodemus about the Holy Spirit.

The evening twilight represents hope to me for the promise of nightfall and rest. The morning twilight represents hope to me for the promise of a new day and opportunity to actively pursue my passions. I don’t think I’d ever want to be stuck in twilight forever though. Stuck in the tension of a hope to come, yet not ready to be fulfilled. It would make my heart sick yearning for the coming of that hope. Yes, perhaps that’s why I’m enamored with the twilight right now. That’s my season of life: the tension of hope in a coming Savior, seeing His power at work in the world, yet not currently able to see His face.

Twilight is about trust: trust in the evening that morning will come, trust in the morning that rest will follow. In those precious few minutes of twilight, I learn again to hope. I learn again to trust that all my doing and all my resting has found fulfillment in Jesus. I learn to stay my mind on Christ and to expressly release control to Him over all of the situations and relationships that I cannot make right and look to Him for the restoration of all things. I learn to aspire to wonder at the marvelous power of God and expectantly wait for Him to show forth His goodness, His glory. In the twilight, my heart cries out to Jesus.

The world of the imagination is a black canvas for prayer to paint upon.

Today I want to share with you my vision. Often I blog about life lessons and realizations that fascinate me. Earlier today, however, I was listening to a sermon by Kris Valloton on dreaming. It hit me so deeply. So many of my worries in life have been related to my future, and so many times I have side-stepped the real issue by telling myself that I needed to stop worrying and start trusting God. This is true, to an extent. For me, the issue ran deeper. My concern for the future was not a command to stop worrying, but an invitation to start dreaming.

So many of the accomplishments and so much of the work I’ve taken on has been in pursuit of the mysterious “will of God” and entailed me listening to His voice to hear how He would direct me next. Because He is faithful, He has done just that. The sad part is that He’s been waiting for me to do so much more than just listen. He’s been waiting for me to dream and dialogue with Him about who I am and what I’d like to see happen in the world. I’ve given Him the blank canvas of my imagination and told Him, “Make something!” but that’s not His role. He’s already made me perfect in Christ, now He wants me to go manifest that perfection in my own unique way. His work is done—now it’s my turn.

With all that said, I present my vision based on the criteria that Kris suggested in his sermon.

Who: I am a man of prayer, a seeker of righteousness, and a musician.

Why: I aim to show the world that the prayer of a righteous man is effective and able to connect to the heart of mankind.

What: I desire to write prayers in song, teaching people how to pray effectively and genuinely.

How: In the short term, by finishing the songs for my first EP and releasing them on iTunes. In the long term, by becoming a dedicated song-writer and prayer warrior.

When: I want to get the EP released by the end of summer!

I have needed a vision for a long time, I have wandered aimlessly through a metaphorical desert since I was a child, and only now am I waking up to realize that what I do can and does hold power because I have Christ living in me. I have tried to craft vision statements many times before and they’ve all been left incomplete and unclear. For some reason, talking it through with God this time, I have come up with SOMETHING! I wasn’t disconnected from God in my previous attempts, which leads me to believe that there may yet have been a Divine purpose in my wandering (I’m still reflecting on that), but for now I know this: God is the potter, but in order to shape us, He needs something to work with. Vision is the emulsifier of identity—it makes who we are stick together in a unified manner and keeps us on a course. I have now found a small piece of that, and I’m going to run with it for now and keep asking for more.