Brick and Mortar

You are always building. Futures are designed by choices, and choice is the groundwork in which all things take shape, stability, and structure. Every so often, there is clear evidence of choice directly effecting consequence…choice of what school to go to, what career path to pursue, who to marry, and so on. These choices the average person can look at and immediately say to themselves ‘yes, this is a decision that will change what my life looks like.’ It isn’t exactly a large, unfamiliar assumption, as most of us know that we will all be met with such choices every so often, some more eager than others to come across.

Regardless of the mindset, the chooser will always go one direction or another, and with that, a marker is placed along the wall. The power of choice is often the most misunderstood, especially in today’s arenas of politics, ethics, and morals. It seems that an overwhelming majority of people believe that simply burying one’s head in the sand is the same thing as not having to make a choice, and with the constant onslaught of misinformation on television, slanted advertisements on billboards and radio, and an unrelenting wave of role models taking a high-powered magnet to society’s moral compasses, most people believe the best choice is no choice at all, and to allow things to just go by in an appealing umbrella of tolerance and ‘live and let live’ mentality. They are also laying the groundwork for their future; it is made out of straw, or at best, sticks.

Futuresight. A builder needs to know what they want the building to look like before it is completed; otherwise they will lose precious time tearing it down if they want to change their plans. In the same way, too many choices that are considered for a moment, decided on in an instant, and soon after reconsidered and broken down again results in many lives that are being built, and rebuilt, and rebuilt again. Nothing is finished. Nothing is definitive. And who can be comfortable in a building that isn’t made out of material that lasts?

~B.

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The one where you can see things close up, but not far away

Before I had my first pair of glasses, I was always squinting to see things that others could see with little to no effort. It wasn’t that I didn’t intentionally squint; no, my constant hours in a darkened room staring incessantly at the illuminated pixels dancing wildly in front of me got me quickly accustomed to that style of sight already. At the time before I had glasses, I just assumed that the world was blurry to everyone, and because I was doing well in school and didn’t complain about how blurry things were to anyone, it was assumed my eyes were just fine. It wasn’t until my first years in Washington, the summer after eighth grade, that I finally had my first eye test. After quickly noticing that I couldn’t read the oversized ‘E’ at the top of every eye chart (and only knowing it was an ‘E’ because it was always an ‘E’ on the top of every eye chart), decided it might be in my best interest to get a pair of glasses.

I will never forget the moment I put them on for the first time. I was perplexed, dumbfounded, overwhelmed. I kept exclaiming to my mom “I had no idea that this is what things were supposed to look like!” Signs were not only legible, but perfectly in focus for what seemed like miles away. I never noticed how many features were really on mother’s face before, or an old tire on a bus, or the stark beauty of the mountainous backdrop of Seattle.

Since then, the concept of vision has held a particularly dear importance to me, because I know the difference between sight and clarity,  perception and focus. I also know that without vision, life fades into a myriad of daily humdrum and weekly ‘same old, same old’ with no real desire to go anywhere, and less of a drive to change anything, because the beauty of the world only looks like a faded photograph, its colors weathered and worn, only giving a vague imitation of what things truly look like.

However, when someone has a very clear vision, it not only colors their life, but it brings a spark of drive to others around them. When there is something that one truly wants, something that one cannot live without seeing fulfilled, it shifts the atmosphere around them, and invokes destiny to become worked out in their daily paths to get them to where they want to be. And, of course, the more vivid the image, the more powerful the drive is to get them there.

I am not simply speaking of future goals, either. To want to have a lot of money isn’t enough to truly depict the image of the future, for it is only one part of a true vision; to be successful is convoluted and vague; to have a family is par for the course of most people’s lives. When people attain these goals, then what do they have left to achieve? Their vision is gone, and thus their drive either wanes or they choose a new thing to accomplish. This isn’t the kind of vision I’m talking about.

When God parts the veil of time, and shows us a piece of ourselves through His eyes…this is true vision. It has no deadline, it has no list of things to do, and yet, when we get just a piece of who we were meant to be through a lens infinitely larger than ours, and we can see ourselves as God sees us, even for a moment…that kind of vision becomes permanently branded onto our spirits, never to be washed out or faded by time or circumstance. Divine vision, divine design, divine inspiration…all this comes from a heavenly vision. It drives the heart to beat fast with unseen promises of fulfillment; it moves the hands and the feet to work with the utmost diligence to unfold the mystery of who we were meant to be. At this point we don’t see steps to take, or a life merely dictated by the checking off of a list…we see us, wielding destiny and shaping the kingdom of heaven through our lives.

I say that to say this…last weekend, I had some bad news come my way. It can’t be helped, it is life, after all. I ended up disappointed, deflated, and emotionally frayed. And it was in the moment of contemplation shortly afterwards I realized why people in the movies always flailed around after being blinded by something. I never truly understood their motives in swinging their arms violently, trying to find something to hold on to, especially if they were well aware of their surroundings and could have just calmly felt around. I felt the same way after hearing the news; I still had my vision, but it got temporarily blurred, and I found myself stumbling, frantically feeling around for anything familiar, even though everything was the same as it has always been.

However, the thing I love most about vision, is that while  sometimes the image can get blurry by things that happen to us, it is never the image that blurs, merely our perception of it. As soon as the dirt is out of our eyes, as soon as our lenses become clear, we see that God still sees us the same. And, because of this, I was able to get over it in a matter of days, and not weeks. Because I know what the clear picture is; I know a place that I am going to be someday. And no matter of dust on my glasses will keep me from losing my identity in Christ. And it never could, unless I forget what it means to see clearly.

I pity those without vision. Without true Vision penetrating their hearts and motivating their every step, how can they know what clarity is? Bouncing from person to person, vice to vice, day to day…these are the lost ones. They have no idea that the world isn’t as blurry as they think it is. They just need a new pair of glasses.

It really gives “Be Thou my vision, oh Lord of my heart” a lot more…clarity.

~B.

 

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‘Auld Lang Syne’ must be foreign for ‘don’t know the words’

The new year is here. The year that, since I was old enough to recognize both my favorite number and the future, I have been waiting to arrive. The funny part is, while I was waiting for the year to get here, I never knew I would actually get here. But, now that it is, it seems like a very good year.

Most people I know about would label 2010 a bastard. It took and took and rebelled and robbed and probably poked someone in the eye a few times. Certainly the world was filled with relief when the countd0wn began. Recession, mortgages, unemployment, Justin Bieber, and airport security. If 2010 was a person, I know more than a few people who would have no qualms engaging in an extreme round of fisticuffs with him.

However, as I look towards the next year, something in me believes it is a year of hope. Not the cheesy, talked-about-in-every-other-song hope, but true hope. I believe it will be a year that will require action, but will not return void once action is taken. It is like God is looking down, and asking people all over the world ‘Will you take this year for Me? Will you take the land that I promised you?’ And for those who step out and do something, I think they will be surprised how fast that nervous first step soon turns into an emboldened sprint into the unknown.

For me, there are many areas in my own life which I know I am going to take. Areas that, until now, have always been great ‘that’s nice’ scenery in the background of my life, but now are approaching me quickly in the form of a summit. Suddenly the places I wanted to go but seemed so far away are within my reach.

My health. My financial and residential independence. My musical ability. My social network.

Four gigantic mountains that, until just a few weeks ago, were always things I talked about doing, or dreamed about accomplishing when I made it. As it turns out, I have a better chance of making it when I make it. These are all things that I will take on this year, with a plan, and one foot in front of the other.

I already had a huge boost in the health department. I finished Phase 2 of the HCG diet, and I lost 45 pounds in 35 days. Using the quick math, that’s roughly 1.3 pounds a day. Which ain’t too shabby at all. However, I don’t want to get in the habit of doing this all the time to lose the weight. I mean, sure, it requires a lot of discipline to stay on that diet, but I’d rather lose weight by gaining muscle. So, it was fun, but now it’s time to start working at it.

Still, I am very confident that I will be different going in to this year than when I leave. I don’t know where I’ll be, but I know I’ll be on a good path towards the life I want. I suppose that it’s less about keeping my New Year’s Resolutions, and more about keeping my New Year’s Resolve.

Also, whatever I do November 11th at 11:11, you better believe it will be amazing.

~B.

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I’m pretty sure my watch is broken.

Wow. And another year flies by, even faster this time around than the last time I decided to start blogging followed by an immediate dismissal of said project due to lack of inspiration, time, or both. Regardless, this will be another attempt to write down the happenings both around and in me, for the purpose of looking back one day and seeing the road I’ve traveled, and what I’ve accomplished thus far.

But, in all of the introductory blogs back into the writing saddle, I must first recap what my life has looked like since the last time I wrote here, some fourteen months ago. Just like that, another year gone, another year older, another year wiser…as the saying goes, anyways.

During the last moments of 2009 I was riding high on the cloud of destiny. Change was in the wind, my international legs were both getting stronger and bolder, and I was deep in the thick of traveling, teaching, and accepting that life was about to get faster, more exciting, and my destiny was on the verge of full illumination.

Then, January rolled around, and I found myself without any trips on the calendar. None. Not one. The only real trip that was planned was to Holland, and that wasn’t until the fall. Not even Elisha’s Request was doing anything that called for me. I was trapped at my home church for the first few weeks. Gradually, a few weeks became a couple of months, then three, four, five…and before I knew it, I was brought to a point where I was convinced I had done some misdeed, and was pulled from the field and benched by God.

That has always been something that is somewhat of a weakness of mine. While others struggle with a certain sin, their heavy pasts, or maybe even apathy, my biggest struggle is with guilt. Guilt that something didn’t go exactly right, guilt that I say or do something that will change someone for the worse…even if someone stubs their toe on a table in another room, I have that brief moment of doubt, that if only I would have moved the table just a little out of the way it would have been averted. Irrational, yes; then again, all fear is irrational. At least, the fear we dwell on.

So, when I found myself doing the same things week in and week out, my initial reaction was chastisement. The thoughts were soft, at first; I swatted them away irritatingly whenever they chose to whisper. But, as time went on, they got much louder, and much more persistent.

What did I do wrong?

What am I not doing?

Why did I get left in the dust?

Is there a way back into God’s ultimate plan?

That last thought makes me laugh now; as if I even knew His plan then…as if I have a clue now. Regardless, this was my existence in the first seven months of the year. Things were slowly changing at my church; my job description was beginning to shift, I became the (temporary) full-time drummer, and the media department changed hands. However, in my head I was so preoccupied with ‘the life I lost’ that I didn’t even notice the ground shifting underneath me.

It wasn’t until my birthday rolled around that Jesus decided enough was enough and gave me a hard kick awake from a weeks-long coast. It wasn’t a great big emotional body slam, some dream given to me in the night or some prophet who knocked at my door. It was three little words. Words heard in just about every drama ever made, words that eluded me as to their effectiveness or even their merit, due to the oversaturation over time. But, they hit me one night just a couple of days before I turned 25, just as I could feel sleep carrying me away.

Life is short.

And with those three little words, I was no longer tired. In fact, I was no longer able to even consider sleep. Time had marched on unflinchingly, even while I ignorantly denied its application, for the larger part of the year. And before I knew it, I had gotten callus to the secondhand out of self-pity that I had somehow lost my purpose, lost my calling.

But my calling was never to travel and teach. My calling was to be instrumental in the furthering of the kingdom of heaven on this earth…with every step I took, with every moment that passes. To be used and utilized, everywhere, including the everywhere I was at that very moment. And, in that test of faith, I failed Him, I failed myself, and I failed my calling.

I couldn’t describe the feeling I had in my bedroom that night. I was so relieved; I was so ashamed. I was able to see what God had been trying to show me, through clearing my schedule of what I thought was His will…he was trying to realign my definition of ‘calling’ back to His. I couldn’t stop smiling as those thoughts dissipated, and I went to sleep full of peace.

Ironically, it wasn’t long after that that I began to travel again. Various churches around the area suddenly opened up, wanting me to play there. My trip to Holland (and, just before, Canada) was fast approaching, and the Christmas season garnered all sorts of opportunities to meet new people and make new connections. However, I am grateful that I was realigned before I went on the trips, otherwise I might not have been used as powerfully as I was, all through God’s voice ringing through my heart at the perfect times. I don’t claim to have words of knowledge, at least in the terms of a loud cry in a room full of people. However, I know I was given words, both in Canada and in Ede, and I know they didn’t come from me.

Still, even now, those words still press on my heart. Life is short. And, scientifically, life gets even shorter the longer we live it. I cannot afford to wait anymore, to sit idly by until I feel it is right to move. Sometimes God gives us the right time to move, and other times we move, and then God makes it right. Waiting is not an option when it comes to doing what we know needs to be done in order to establish the things of God in the world.

And so, I am making huge steps in becoming the man I know God wants me to be. I have joined a gym. I am about to finish a very rigid diet. I have put down my gaming controllers, and picked up cooking and reading more. I am opening up to those closest to me, not in the interest of self, but in the interest of keeping lines between me and my friends and family fresh and strong, so that God can play on the strings of my relationships with my friends and family without needing to hold Himself back for the fear of breaking them. I am learning to become a better brother; I am learning to be a better son. I am learning to be a man of action, and not of words and wishes.

And I am learning to carve my own path in the sand, and allow the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit to blow the sand to the next place.

This is not a destination for me, either…this is a journey, never ending until the day my time expires. But for now, I’ll just take this path, one second at a time.

~B.

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Compass

Okay…here we go again. For the third time in my life, I have decided to start blogging again. To be honest, I somewhat miss the feel of pen and paper while I write over the dull snaps of the keyboard; something connects much deeper when I myself let the letters out. However, for the sake of time, and moreso for the sake of my penmanship, I use blogs now and again as measuring markers for my life. And thus, I will begin another one, knowing of course that it is only a matter of time until I forget about this one and move on to another something to do.

Which leads to question one, perhaps the question that will not only define the first of many entries, but also a means of which to diagnose myself the ailment that words seem to cure: Where Am I? A room in a house off a cul-de-sac, yes; A city a short distance from the Puget Sound, sure; Washington State, definitely. But, as anyone who has heard that question knows, the subject of ‘where’ changes even faster than the answer does as the mind races against itself, hundreds of thoughts pushing themselves to the surface all at once, each of them sure they know the answer to the question. “Location!” Some yell out. “Emotional state!” “Walk with Christ!” shouts the most devout of thoughts, those wishing to always walk the straight, narrow path at all times.

Even though there are many answers, it is still a valuable question. I am not one to always question who I am, what I am…however, in the times when it is harder to see, there is a value in anchors when the storms come. And they do come.

So, let me begin with the obvious places where I am…

I am in my mid twenties. 24 is no longer a boy, I am a man now. Sometimes, I still wish for the days when the worst of my troubles was not being home before the porch light came on, sticky from sweat during a warm summer day’s worth of playing. Those times have come and gone, and time will continue to go faster and faster at this point. Mid-life crisis nothing, I know that time is running now, at a fever pitch by the way things are going now.

I am in a transition. As with most anyone, I myself find myself in a period where the ground is not quite firm under my feet, but firm enough to know that I am safe. However, this is not simply a cry of obliviousness, of not being satisfied with myself, knowing the ground on the other side of the wall will forevermore have a deeper shade of jade that I will want but never have. No…this is a major turning point for me. Living my maturity years in Washington has been nothing short of good. My church saw me as a young musician, gave me grounds to train my musical prowess and dispelled my fear of large crowds. My school respected me as an all-around ‘nice guy,’ giving me leadership roles and granting me my first relationship, helping remove my fear of females…somewhat. My life was simple; my life was good.

However, the world is a big place. I have seen so much out there, so much more than what I see here. While I am grateful to the environment that helped form me, I also yearn for a bigger pond to swim in, where I can find the next step into the me that God wants. It almost looks like betrayal, the thoughts I have to stretch. I wonder if birds could possess the same feelings of loyalty and abandonment, what they would think as they left the nest for the last time. I feel it would be very similar. But, we both know what we have to do.

Fly.

I am also not tied to anything here, really…I have a great job that lets me travel with people around the world, and it lets me edit video, which I am very good at…it is nice, having a non-musical outlet to be creative at. But, other than that, I have no real ties to this place. With the convenience of modern technology, all one has to do is spend thirty seconds online to find anyone they wish at any time, and because of that the world has gotten much smaller. I am not tied with a relationship either, which makes me very mobile. I am not sure how long that will last though…I believe I am ready to start a real relationship, which I wasn’t able to say a year ago. However, I believe my time has come to start actively seeking God and getting those cues to pursue it. We will see.

God is very near me as well, which is a large reason why the question of Where is not all that daunting. The events that have defined my life is evidence enough that the destiny before me is not one I am writing, but rather one the Writer has scribbled down. Disbelief and Wonder are my long-time companions, and they have much to say with every passing phone call, every passing connection being made. Going around the world, playing my bass, meeting people and experiencing a worldview that is much unlike most Americans (which, by the way, in a survey concluded that an average 60% of people my age couldn’t locate Iraq on a map). It is a journey of great privilege, and for all the shortcomings I have, I am still able to be myself in a grand stage.

This is where I am now. As the days unfold, many topics will turn up. But, for now, it is good enough that I leave an anchor here, just in case I lose my place. Here’s to more entries in the future.

~Carpe Noctem

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