Friday, February 15, 2013

Against the Tide

What makes a Christian different from every other religious, church-going individual in America? Is there really something set apart about them besides the fact that they tend to be a little later to the football game on Sunday? Augustine in his Confessions once asked, “Is it then the walls of a church that make a Christian?” As Christians plunge further into the future of the American society that is all about individualism and self-significance, it is especially important that they are fully confident and aware of who they are in Jesus Christ, and that they have His word as a foundation over the shaky standards of this world.
The first side that should be tackled on this identity topic is the assurance of one’s identity. A Christian already has an identity in Christ – emphasis being mainly on the word in. If one is not aware of just who God has made them to be, or denies the gifts and abilities God the Father has bestowed upon them, a depression and feeling of insignificance sneaks in on the soul. Neil T. Anderson writes about this particular issue in his work Victory Over the Darkness. On page 19 of his text, Dr. Anderson writes “External appearance, accomplishment and recognition do not necessarily reflect – or produce – internal peace and maturity." He goes on to talk about the character of oneself outside of Christ and outside of God’s will, and brings in King Solomon’s take on the same subject from the book of Ecclesiastes – “Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless…everything is meaningless!” So that is a lot of meaningless-ness in the life of a human without that link to Christ who makes man whole and complete. Dr. Anderson declares “The only identity equation that works in God’s kingdom is you plus Christ equals wholeness and meaning." No case or justification can be made for one who denies the labor that God put into making His children. He has carefully crafted each of our identities. The Star-Breather God; the Creator of the heavens and the earth created man fearfully and wonderfully. He, who spoke the waves to spring out from deep chasms of nothingness in just a single day, spent the entirety of one day making man. After making man, his most favored work of art, He saw that it was good. Therefore our identity in Him is that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, mankind is heir to His Kingdom, and he is His child. As Dr. Anderson puts it, “You are already a whole person and possess a life of infinite meaning and purpose because of who you are – a child of God."
There is no better way for the enemy of the Christian faith to combat his foes than to warp their identity in Christ in their own minds. If a young man of God has the full, biblical understanding of whom God has made him to be; he is a danger to Satan. Because of this fact, fellow Christian soldiers should realize that while they are living in the shoes God has entrusted them to wear – traps will be set, laces will be tied and holes will be dug to stall them and watch them fall. Let this clear; this understanding of Christian identity does not enhance the view of man, but rather enhances the view of God through man, that men who are lost shall see him.
The ministry of a Christian is ineffective if he looks and acts just like everyone else in his society. What has he to offer everyone else that could possibly complete their life? What evidence is there that this Christian has hope that his friends do not have? Who a man or woman is in Christ could not be more important in this day and era. Discovering one’s identity is extremely contingent upon the nature of his Bible study, and how often his studying takes place. For the Bible is the Word of God, and it is the good news that commissions us to represent Christ, God’s son, to a world lost without Him. To represent Christ for this world is the sole purpose of the Christian. Beyond that, life is fluff. Without that, life is meaningless and plain vanity. Without that, life is an argument essay without valid sources.
            The culture of America tends to poison a healthy relationship with God and with other brothers and sisters in Christ, mainly from its fast-food lifestyle. We want everything and we want it now – our way. Needless to say, that lifestyle is ungodly and therefore hinders relationships with Christ. The Christian’s role and identity in Christ can be misguided or undefined when the church lives in a culture that makes so much of what it believes to be wrong okay.
As Romans 12:2 states, the Christian is “not to be conformed to this world, but transformed” by the renewing of his mind. God is holy, and by definition, holy is “set-apart.” Just as Christianity is Christ-like and man is made in the image of God, he should strive to be set apart. Now obviously, and quite needless to say; no one is or can be perfect, but even Jesus desires us to pursue perfection. To pursue perfection is to pursue Christ.  However, the goal is to not cause some kind of uprising against the culture or the church as it is today, but rather to make an inward change in the heart, and to help further that process with others. This process is called discipleship. Since Christians are spiritual siblings, it is their responsibility to hold one another accountable. This is also the mission of Jesus. In his book Joyful Exiles, James M. Houston  reminds us of Jesus’ mission on earth; that “Jesus did not send out His disciples to change governments or even to build churches, but to change hearts." Houston stresses that “Christian discipleship is personal, not professional," and the Christ-like should therefore not seek to condemn the world, but as Jesus did, save that which was lost through the power of the Holy Spirit. In Joyful Exiles and in careful study of Scripture, we see that this mission starts and ends in the heart.
It is evident that there are two sides to this topic of identity in Christ. Firstly, that the Christian recognizes that his life should be smothered with Jesus and coated with more of Jesus; that he should not try to fit Jesus into his future goals and dream careers but fit his future goals and dream careers around Jesus, his everything. Secondly, that he understands the heart that goes behind the Great Commission that Jesus assigned unto him. The mission is a personal one, not a shaking of fists or a raising of voices. Houston also says that Jesus’ revolution was “not about social and political structures, but about changes of the mind and of the will and, indeed, of the heart." What great things the Christian can do if Jesus becomes his identity and that this identity is understood and practiced in his everyday life.
So if Christian life is so richly based off of the importance of who one is and what one does for Christ, is not the issue of identity in Him now at a critical stage? Should the Christian not be seeking resolve for this issue with desperation and a heart readied for conviction? There is a severe identity-in-Christ crisis within the church body; especially in the youth of America. With so many things rising to fame and normality that contradict the Bible, the Christian is tempted to mold to the pressure. Perhaps it is due to the problem stated above, but apathy and complacency has settled over the young American-Christian culture. The Proverbs warn that the “complacency of fools destroys them."
Let the words of Paul to both Timothy and Titus be an encouragement, as he models the Christian identity for all who are Christ-like; saying “no” to ungodliness, “yes” to Jesus, and going against the tide.
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy, so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe in Him and have eternal life.” (I Timothy 1:15b-16)
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us all from wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:11-14)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mighty Mice

I feel like I have learned more this last week about God and about the life He intends for me than I have in the last several years of my life. I praise God for that, as it has been a roller coaster for me. Just like any roller-coaster, it has involved lots of hand raising for me. Jesus is awesome. God the father is awesome. The Holy Spirit is awesome. I say awesome because   the word is strangely fitting for what I am trying to say. Also, I find a sudden lack of meaningful English words that could describe what I've felt in my heart about my Lord and Savior. 

Who can know the mind of the Lord? Who can understand His ways? The question is sometimes taken to be a rhetorical one, but in reality I believe it is not. Every so often we have to answer it, and answer it honestly.

Amazing how God is the creator of the heavens and the earth; He has breathed stars into existence, and I find myself advising God, critiquing God, telling Him what He should do in my life, etc...A genuine fear of God has been missing. Sin has this way of shrinking God down in our minds and building ourselves up. I am greatly convicted of this fact, and it scares me that I have blatantly brought myself to level thinking with God, as if I somehow know better. Of course, it's not a conscious thought of mine, but I am doing it none-the-less when I try to modify God's course for my life, or write my plans and stone and just expect God to work some miracles and do stuff for me -- as if God is suddenly some tool I have in my back pocket that I can pull out and use to fix stuff up. My God is so much bigger than that. 

All these learning experiences from the Holy Spirit's conviction have just reinforced the vision that missions need to be a huge part of my life. The more the definition of God, His creation, and His love is burned into me, the more my heart begins to flutter and soar at the idea of doing such a thing as missions. Missions is much larger than who I makes me feel ridiculously small -- but a good small. Missions is much larger than the dreams that I have, and I still believe God has instilled those in me for a reason, but I know I must act on what God is telling me at this moment if I expect God to move in my dreams later in the future. I believe He will move in my dreams later, and possibly during my dedication to missions. There is only one way to find out. And I am ready for that "one way." That "one way" is Jesus, and it is also a life dedicated to making sure the far reaches of the world know His name, and have had a chance to decide in their hearts that Jesus is truly their one and only Savior. Ah! I am very excited, as you readers can probably tell, since this is the second blog that I have dedicated to this topic. It is at the forefront of my conscience though, so when I have mental dumps such as this one, it's what keeps my fingers dancing on the keyboard. I will have you know, my fingers are not very good dancers when it comes to keyboard dancing. I have had to back-space so much during this posting, it's unreal. The button is bruised and weary.

Anyways, I have Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat rehearsal in the morning, so I should probably call this post done and get some shut-eye. In the meantime -- keep chasing God and His heart, dear readers! And perhaps while you're doing that, you'll come across my blog again. 

Peace, love, and joy friends!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

College with a Side of Ketchup

I certainly have a lot of a lot catching up to do! 2012 has certainly been a gargantuan year for me, and I have made few attempts to document my journeys. So this is my first attempt -- let's see if I can cram the adventures I've had into one train of thought. The disclaimer is: there will inevitably be multiple trains and they will all crash into each other or some other obstructions along the way, but I have already accepted this fact, as should you dear reader and follower.

Let's start in the summer of 2012, since that was about the last time I updated the story of my life on this humble and very non-informational blog. The summer of 2012 opened with the realization that I would be attending San Diego Christian College, majoring in Music with an emphasis in Musical Theater. This realization was extremely surprising to me, because I was hoping to make my life the easy way -- to magically get discovered with my musical abilities, get famous, make lots of money, marry my dream woman, and get the heck out Dodge. I know, I know, you can shed a tear or two at my naivete, but that was my legitimate thought process as a recently graduated high school student without a clue about what it meant to become my own man and branch out in the world. My life and thought process really did change when this college opportunity arose from out of nowhere. The opportunity to visit the campus and see what it was like was made possible by a family that is really close to me, the Thuerbachs. They invited me to join them on their  road trip and tour the school. And that's exactly what I did. I toured the school and saw a vision of myself schooling there -- walking here and there about the campus, hanging out with new-found friends and doing my studies. So I made the commitment to apply to the school and do everything I could to be there by fall. It seemed to happen like magic, because the next thing I knew I was walking across the parking lot of SDCC towards the registration desk on August 23rd. 

Since that time, I've made lots of new friends here on campus and have had the opportunity to be part of several music performance related things and I have also really sharpened and honed my music writing skills and my knowledge of music theory -- which is very exciting, I will admit. The topic of music and the mystery of what music is enthralls me. And I get it. It's not often that I get things, but music -- I just get. I am so grateful to God for that gift. 

In the fall semester I auditioned for an international missions team called VISION, and was accepted into the team a few weeks later. This particular missions team evangelizes by performing music in both English and the respective country's language, and also stages pantomime plays that convey the gospel message without even considering language as a barrier. It truly is a beautiful thing to be a part of, and I am so excited to see what God does through the VISION team and through me while I am a part of it.

At the close of this semester, VISION is travelling to Spain to preach the good news of Jesus Christ, and I will be with them! At first, I thought it was just going to be a really cool experience for me, and that I would take the experience with me in my heart for the rest of my life journeys. But now, this opportunity has grown into this massive idea/vision of something so much bigger than anything I have ever dreamed. I shall explain what I mean momentarily.

I think it was about 2 weeks ago that I was contacted by a really close friend of mine, Misha, who currently lives back in Tucson. I'm proud to say that she is the friend I have had for the longest time, and therefore knows me the best, I'm sure! During a Skype conversation, the topic of living abroad came up. I've always loved the idea of that and entertained until I was tired of the encores, but I guess never took into full seriousness. If I were to travel abroad or live abroad, it would be because I was part of a sweet rock band or something and was on world tour. Or maybe I was a famous playwright/music composer and had several meetings and conferences over in China or London or something like that. That was as far as my thinking went when it came to that sort of thing. So world travel = great! But I was stuck in the thinking that the world travel would be solely something beneficial for me. I was missing the big picture.

How God works is amazing, however. Two days later, SDCC hosted a conference called the International Outreach Festival. During this conference...God punched a hole in my heart. Maybe even several holes, I have yet to calculate the entirety of the damage that was done to it.  To shorten a much longer story; God showed me during that conference how much of a fool I had been when it came to figuring out my life. He showed me that I was self-absorbed, that I dwelt to long on what I wanted to do with my life and that I dwelt little on what He wanted to with other's lives through mine. I also saw that in my whole life I have never made any sacrifices for the kingdom of God; that I had never put my plans on the line to further the plans God may have for me. I had never thought that my plans may not line up with God's. Until that moment -- until that sermon in the IOF that I am sure has changed my life forever. I am now certain that God wants me to take the opportunity to study abroad in Quito, Ecuador this next fall semester, as a start to the journey that God has for me to bring his kingdom on earth. I have never thought so deep into this topic until the last few days, but I just know that I have been living my life wrong, and that I have been missing the bigger picture that God has been trying to show me. The big picture is a question really, and that is: what else matters when it comes to spreading the gospel? What else matters? As it says in Matthew 10, if you lose your life, you will gain it. And I now plan to lose my life in Jesus Christ completely. To lose my life in Jesus and in the people that He loves so dearly. What right as a Christian do I have to neglect the people that God longs to love and bless through me. God has broken me down, raised me up, educated me, and now has inspired me to take a step of faith and spend a semester in Ecuador. I'm going to get such a good glimpse of what the missions world is like, and I just know its going to start a fire that could burn through the rest of my life. And I am willing to take that risk. I am now willing to abandon all the plans for an American Dream that I had before, because I just can't seem to find the 'American Dream' in the Holy Bible. But I do see an awful lot of sacrifice, and desperate faith. With faith, there will always be fear. And I am nervous, scared, and wondering how this is all going to work out. I remember the Scriptures though, which state... "God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline." (2 Timoth 1:7)

So this post's purpose was to catch you up, and to also let you followers know that your Jake has changed, and he's ready to go! 

"Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:39)

"Christ came into the world to save sinners -- of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy, so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe in Him and receive eternal life."
(1 Timothy 1:15-16)

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Top of my Head

I write poems off the top of my head
Some fall off and end up dead
Some turn out fantastic and wild
Others seem quite tasteless and mild
And page after page can seem kind of sad
But I'm not saying that sad is bad
I'm actually saying it's like a girl
On one day you will mean the world
But next week you'll seem pretty dull
She'll takeover thought if you're not careful
In your heart, she'll coyly puncture a whole
Yes, just like girls there's these things called poems
No matter your age, you'll never out grow 'em.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Chapter THREE

Nad and I wolfed down Mother’s bread and soup; while Father, Mother, and Mr. Eldhart exchanged stories of their arrivals to Prew. But I was restless. I wanted to hear Mr. Eldhart tell a real story. None of this...small talk!
The parents’ talking began to wind down, and Mother got up to see about dessert. I tapped my fingers on the edge of the dining room table, and awaited my turn to pounce on the opportunity to ask Mr. Eldhart. The very moment there was even a slight break in conversation, I asked Mr. Eldhart for a story.
“Well, what kind of story are your ears itchin’ for today?” the man asked, stroking his beard. I liked to think that that was the way he created his stories; churning the thoughts and dreams in his head by tugging on that old red beard.
  “What about a story with wizards?” Nad suggested, and I could not agree more.
  “Yes please, sir! About the old wizards of Kûn Az!”
Mr. Eldhart made a strange expression. It looked like a mixture between anger, confusion, and concern. None of which are good expressions in my opinion.
  “The wizards? Ah, but those are not good stories...”
  “Why not?” I asked, “They were the heroes of the old days! Masters of trickery and of immense power; feared by all their enemies!”
  “The latter part of what you spoke is true; Masters of Trickery they definitely were, and they had immense powers that were feared by all their foes. But we were their foes, young Tristram.”
  “We were?” I asked, confused.
  “In the olden days (about 250 years ago), we, the humans of Raële and the dwarves of Ieliathia, were the only ones who dared to oppose the wizards of Kûn Az in their rapid rise to power. You see, the wizards came to the shores of Käorgan in a ship called Aëlvrídashabül.”
   “Try sayin’ that about five times faster,” Father said with a chuckle.
   Mr. Eldhart laughed too and continued:
 “They came from a land across the sea—an island some have said—that lies hidden behind thick fog. An island that the wizard’s referred to as Kûn Az.
   “You also have to understand, at this point in time, magic was only a bed time story to these warriors that stood on the banks of Ieliathia, awaiting the wizards’ ships to come ashore. Some didn’t even believe such a power of matter existed. Some did believe, but they still didn’t understand where it came from and why. Or how one could obtain the power to control it.
 “When the leader of the wizard army, Lord Extraceon, stepped off his craft, the armies of Ieliathia were frozen fast. In the wizard leader’s right hand he held a sword that was enveloped by a black flame. He raised his arm and pointed at our armies, screaming his battle cry, and his wizard’s charged off the ships. It was a bloody day. The Ieliathians were driven back all the way to the Cliffs of Elien Hravil, where they were cornered and forced to surrender. The wizards took most as prisoners, and those prisoners were never heard from again.
    “For months, the wizards went through all of Ieliathia, burning and plundering, murdering and kidnapping, until one day, a man rose up out of the blue, wielding a sword of diamond and the power of magic. This man was Alatarae, the first and only good wizard. His origins were unknown, how he got his magic powers, no one knows. Though there are some rumors and tales that suggest the powers were given to him by a dragon…”
  “A dragon?!” Nad and I exclaimed in unison.
Mr. Eldhart smiled a mischievous smile. “Aye, a dragon. That dragon might still be up in his lonely, wintery mountain to this day. The mighty warrior Alatarae climbed to the monstrous Cave of Dreams at the top of the mountain, and found the old dragon. The dragon, Asher, put Alatarae to the test to see if he was worthy of the power of magic. Alatarae was a man of honor, so he passed Asher’s test—eventually. Upon passing it, Asher had the warrior make a promise. A promise to never use his magic for anything but good; to only use his powers to protect those in harm. And Alatarae swore to it.
     “Alatarae returned to Ieliathia, where hope was all lost and some of the greatest cities ever built in Talesia had been overrun. He led an army of brave men against the ranks of wizards. These men following behind Alatarae were not even soldiers. They were husbands, fathers, widowers, blacksmiths and farmers, salesman and bankers. What made them soldiers and warriors at heart was their bravery; their resolve to save their families and their homes. Their will to survive was greater than any others’ in all of Talesia. The wizards of Kûn Az soon realized that truth. When Alatarae’s army swept upon them, not even their magic could stop the onslaught. The magic-less weapons in the hands of these brave men proved to be too much for the magic men. Soon the wizards’ stronghold in Käorgan fell, and Lord Extraceon was led out of his place of hiding in the towers of the Käorgan Fortress, and forced to fight Alatarae one on one in the Fields of Markí.  
   “The sword of black flame and the sword of diamond clashed, and one of the most epic and famous duels in history took place. The fate of Talesia rested upon the outcome of this duel. Lord Extraceon was a strong man, even outside of his magic powers. There were many times where Extraceon beat Alatarae to the ground, nearly killing him. Though Extraceon was big and strong, he was a man full of fear. His army was just depleted, and the armies of Ieliathia and Raële were just waiting to pounce on him and him alone in the possible moment that he bested their leader, Alatarae. Whereas, Alatarae was the opposite. His fear was his fuel, his fuel to overcome this evil man who entered his land and destroyed so many lives. Alatarae battled his way back to his feet and fought even harder than the start against Extraceon. In just a matter of minutes, Extraceon’s weapon flew from his hands, and all of his bolts of fire and earth could not hit the Talesian warrior, who parried all of his shots. So Extraceon just fell to his knees and looked his assailant straight in the eye. ‘Kill me,’ he plead, ‘I cannot return to Kûn Az, for there I will surely die a horrible death. Pierce me through the heart. You have bested me, warrior.’
   “But Alatarae refused to kill the man in cold blood, so Extraceon just touched his index finger to his temple. In an instant he fell to the ground dead.
  “The few wizards who remained after the war fled back to their ships and sailed back to their land, never seen or heard from again.”

I caught myself almost drooling from my jaw hanging slack for so long. I had never heard the full story of the Wizards of Kûn Az before. How amazing! Alatarae; just a normal man at one point, and then just—rose up to defeat the greatest threats this world had ever seen! Mulling over the story again through my head made me want to jump out of my seat at the dinner table and be a hero. Just like Alatarae!
  Nad asked the question I was thinking about asking but could not bring myself to. “So where is Kûn Az? Are the wizards still there? And was Extraceon really their leader? Who was he afraid of going back to in Kûn Az?”
Mr. Eldhart shrugged. “All very good questions that I unfortunately don’t know the answers to. I can speculate though, that the thing he was afraid of was the origin of that evil magic they wielded. Perhaps it is not even human, it might be a Shadow of the Creatures of Old…”
“Creatures of Old??” I asked aloud (quite loud, actually).
Mother cut in then. “Ah ah ah, I can already tell that is a story for another time, son. It’s already time for bed for you two.”
Ugh, it was kind of embarrassing to have Mother announce that it was bedtime for Nad and I right in front of Mr. Eldhart! Mothers.
“Yes indeed, that is a much longer story!” Mr. Eldhart said, stretching his huge arms up above his head and yawning. “As you can see, it is a little passed my bedtime as well!”
Well, maybe it was not that embarrassing…
   Father and Mother walked Mr. Eldhart to the door, and my brother and I made our way upstairs. When we made it to the top landing, Nad turned to me and asked, “Can you imagine living in the time of the war? We could’ve been one of those men behind Alatarae! It is something quite amazing to think about…maybe someday that will be us…”
“Yes,” was all managed to say, as I was already thinking deeply about that same subject.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Chapter TWO (my book!)

If you haven't read Chapter One yet, you definitely should! It's right here on the blog!


“Tristram!” Nad exclaimed, “It isn’t that hard! You are forcing should not have to!”
I growled and stomped my foot. I was frustrated that the end of the horizontal fence post refused to slide into the corner post’s newly carved port-hole.
“I don’t think you routed this thing out all the way,” I complained.
“No...are you sure your angle is straight?”
“Yes I am sure my angle is straight!” I snapped back. I dropped to my knees; hoping that maybe it would give me a better position to slide the fence post in. Alas, I forgot about the holes in my trousers; I could feel the moisture of the ground and grass wetting my knee caps and chilling my legs. Perhaps there was an earthworm pinned under my knee as well...something was moving underneath me. I paid it little mind. More mind than I should have, though.
It was well passed noon now, maybe three hours after, and Nad and I had just replaced four fence posts for our corral. And each and every one of them was as annoying as the other.
   So I began my approach again, but this time, I had a hint of resolve. A resolve that was most likely plastered all over my face; a resolve that would probably send ogres running back to their caves in the mountains, crying like little infants. The random thought amused me so much; I might have washed some of the resolve off my face with a little grin. It was not too much of a grin though—I was sure I still had enough resolve on my face.
   However, my resolve was depleted when my father’s voice rang out behind me: “How many grown men does it take to put a post in a hole?”
  Father laughed as if it was the funniest thing he had ever heard, and another man laughed with him.
  I turned at the sound of the other man’s laughter, and my heart crashed when I saw who it was.
  It was Mr. Eldhart, the biggest man I have ever met. He was at least seven feet tall, and by my estimation, his shoulders could barely fit through our doors. But that was beside the point. Mr. Eldhart was Prew’s most famous story-teller. Many a night I would go to The Bonfire and listen to his wild tales. Mr. Eldhart had written so many stories, I was sure he was running Prew out of parchment paper. Mr. Eldhart was my inspiration...he was the greatest writer of all time!
  And I wanted to be a writer.
  Now, one of the few times I ever got to interact with the man, he was laughing at me. That was disappointing.
  Nad muttered something and took the post from me. “I’ll get this, Tristram. It seems you are rather incapable of anything requiring physical effort.”
  I resisted the urge to tackle him right then. It would do no good to further embarrass myself in front of my role model.
  The two men, my father and Mr. Eldhart, stood right outside the back door. They watched Nad put the post in from afar, then decided to make their way over to the corral, where Father would introduce Mr. Eldhart to one of our five horses. Father and Mother were in the business of breeding horses.

Now the sunset was arriving with a small fleet of gray, gold, and purplish clouds, but it did not take too long for Mr. Eldhart to come to a final decision about a horse. His decision surprised me. Out of the four other horses we had, the tawny mare, the brown/white stallion, the white gelding, the black mare; the story-teller chose—

 “Narina—I like this gal! She’s a sport, I can tell.”
  “Narina?” my father said in a half-yell. “Sport isn’t quite the right word you were lookin’ for. I would say—‘rambunctious’? ‘Insane?’”
  Mr. Eldhart laughed. His laugher was contagious; so deep and full of mirth. A chuckle always escaped me when I heard him laugh.
  “I assure you,” the big man replied to Father, “she is just what I am looking for. A man could always use a horse with character. In the end, they have the better instincts.”
  Narina was a storm-gray mare, with a white stripe starting from the crown of her head to her mid back. A friend of my father’s found her running wild up in The Mountains of Olgrff (the mountains that surrounded Lake Bergonon). After trying to keep the wild animal for himself, he gave her to Father. She was too much for the man.
   “I’m hesitant to sell you this animal, Mr. Eldhart,” Father said, patting Narina on the back (who was surprisingly calm at the moment—as if she knew Mr. Eldhart was choosing her), “I’m sure she’ll give you nothing but trouble. I don’t think she’s worth your money. As you probably gathered, she ruined part of our corral. She kicked two of the beams in half!”
  “That means she’s strong!” Mr. Eldhart said and came along the other side of the mare, “and I will buy her for seven socré!”
  “You’re too generous, sir,” Father said, shaking his head. “I’ll except four socré—no more.”
   Mr. Eldhart tsk-tsked and shook his head more fervently than Father, “Five! And we will leave it at that!”
  Father sighed and then chuckled. “Perhaps you and Narina are a good match; you’re both the most stubborn beings I have ever dealt with!”
  Mr. Eldhart smiled a great big smile and nodded in agreement. “Aye, that we are! And that we always will be! Here Nad, there’s the five. Pleasure doing business with you.”
  Father (whose name was Nad, my brother’s namesake) took the money in his left hand and replied, “Likewise!”
  “Would you like to join us for supper, Mr. Eldhart?” Mother called from behind. She was poking her head out the back door.
  I verbalized my agreement with Mother’s invitation. “Oh please sir! Please eat with us! I’d love to hear some more of your stories!”
  “Me too, Mr. Eldhart!” Nad chimed in.
  “I’ve made some fresh bread and soup!” Mother added.
  “What soup might that be?” inquired Mr. Eldhart, though by the look on his face I think he had already made his decision, no matter the soup.
  Mother answered, “Potato and cheese, sir!”
  Mr. Eldhart laughed and mock-rubbed his belly. “Well, I might just have to join you folks now! And I think I have a story or two up my sleeve...”
  Nad and I exchanged excited looks as we followed Father and Mr. Eldhart back into the house.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Storms: Figuratively Speaking

I had a really cool conversation with one of my best friends the other day. We've had so many cool conversations in fact, that we were both tempted to blog ALL our conversations, just for the sake of the world's entertainment. But anyway:
The conversation was about storms, in the figurative and spiritual sense. I was talking about how God had used pretty horrible circumstances in my life to lead up to the more recent, inspiring events that have transpired; and he wondered, "I wonder if there is a way--if we could somehow see God's plan--that we'd avoid those storms entirely." And that question really got us both thinking. A brainSTORM had just begun. (Heh heh...)
Then it occured to me, and it quickly occurred to him as well, that God shapes us through his storms, he pushes us in the way we need to go. He gets us to go to His side of the boat and ask him to save the day. If God doesn't rattle us up a bit sometimes, we'd never see glorious changes in our lives that God knows we long to see. We might not even know what those changes are. For example, if I didn't have my bout with cancer, or my other dramatic battles during that time, my life would be completely different right now. The San Diego Christian College opportunity would never have happened, if my storms never happened. I would still be a depressed, self-hating, fake-faced boy if I was never diagnosed with lymphoma. I would have never known who was there for me, and who was not. I wouldn't have a story that kept both me going, and some people around me. Now honestly, the storm sucked big time while going through it. I know it wasn't a punishment though, because NOW, being on the otherside of it, I'm a new man. I'm tight with God. I'm going to college (I was not even considering college before), I'm passionate about life again, and I've seen a side of God I've never seen before. So in an attempt to wrap this up, the thing is simply this:
  If "storms" are of God, then should we pray them away? If they are to do us good, should we curse them? For me, I will pray God's storms upon me; I pray he opens up the heavens and thunders and rains all over my life. Yes, His storms are difficult. They are heavy, therefore not an easy burden. So I pray for better ways to WEATHER these storms. I pray that I will be on God's side of the boat when it hits my seas, I pray that when he's out there on the water calling for me that I jump right in and never take my eyes off him.
We gotta raise NEW sails, and pray and prepare for the worst. For God sends His toughest hurricanes to show us the biggest miracles! And not only will OUR story and inspiration be effected, but so will  our peer's and the rest of those around us. I look forward to the next rainy day or typhoon God sends my way, for in the end, God is victorious, and in the end, life is how it needs to be, whether we are personally benefited, or someone else entirely in God's kingdom. Afterall, life isn't all about the individual, it's about God. HIS plan. If HE'S victorious, He will make his children victorious as well.
This day I find ways to weather the storm. This day I wait anxiously for it.