Saturday, December 7, 2013

Prone to wonder.

If you don’t know anything about me, know this: I wonder.

I wonder about little things, and I wonder about big things.

The fact of the matter is, I wonder. A little too much? We’re all entitled to our own opinion.

Recently, I’ve been wondering about what would it look like if Jesus was in the spotlight.

Now, in Biblical times Jesus was the spotlight, but was He in the spotlight?

To make things a little less muddy, did Jesus worship the spotlight, or did the spotlight worship Jesus.

The answer is an obvious one, but what makes it such.

In the present day times, all over social media, links are shared of people who participate in wrongdoing, whether it be accidental, small, or large. The ones that are the most shared have the “Christian” label on them.

“Man who claims to be a Christian commits this…”

“Pastor does this…..”

“Preacher’s kid did that…”

And we go NUTS. “You call that person a CHRISTIAN? You let that man lead your Church? Shouldn’t the Pastor of a Church be the model on how to raise a family?!”

…are you ready to vomit yet?

There are two answers to those questions.
1.     Yes, Yes, Yes, because we believe in a Perfect being, we should also strive for Perfection.
2.     We fail just as much as everyone else. And (whether we accept it or not) we are not better than anyone else.

Isn’t it interesting that the most minor hiccups that a Christian commits, become the most magnified in society, yet the bigger the risk that Jesus threw Himself into, the more perfect He somehow became…

So why are followers of Christ put under such a magnifying lens by the world?
In my opinion, the answer is simple.
Because there is no denying the reality of Jesus.

Jesus performs miracles regularly, the more He performs, the more the spotlight gradually illuminates Him. I find it interesting that during the most clutch time in Biblical history, when Jesus conquered death and rose from the grave, He wasn’t the one that said anything about it first. It required people to seek the grave (the spotlight) to realize it wasn’t there anymore. And when Jesus did talk He didn’t say “Dude, did you see that?” Instead, in the most humble, selfless, and perfect way imaginable He made His disciples realize that the ultimate battle had been defeated, they were eyewitnesses, and then they were instructed to go and make disciples of all nations.

When Jesus died on the cross, He offered us eternal life, and because of that we were given a spiritual spotlight that we will never be able to attain. But because of security in the Gospel, it’s a beautiful ride.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

tick, tock.


Before I give an update on my condition and my life, I wanted to thank you. Thank you for your prayers, thank you for your worry, thank you for your calls/texts/messages, thank you for your heart (it is beautiful). Not only did I feel a sense of peace from the Holy Spirit throughout this ongoing recovery process, I felt a sense of peace from you, your wisdom, and your compassion, and your thoughts were nothing short of motivation throughout this experience.

Most of you know I had to leave (the best school in the world) Biola University abruptly at the beginning of this semester due to ongoing pain in my face where I was already aware of multiple cysts. My reason for leaving, was simply doctor's orders and doctor's advice. I was instructed to leave if I felt ongoing and persistent pain, and as much as I didn't want to admit the pain, it was real, and it was persistent, and so i left.

God knows EXACTLY what He's doing.

The day of surgery was definitely a new experience for me,  nervousness was present as most would expect, but the peace of the Holy Spirit was always prevalent, and it was a beautiful thing to experience.

To be quite honest, God had revealed Himself through travel plans and through personal interactions on the planes that I was on to fly back to Texas, but I was awaiting God to reveal Himself through the operation and recovery. The thought of knowing that Christ was in control seriously made me so excited.

and MAN did God deliver.

There were some things that didn't go as planned (although we didn't really know what planned meant) on surgery day.

1. The surgery was supposed to last 2 hours. 2 1/2 hours max. It lasted closer to 5-5 1/2 hours.
2. My doctor wasn't expecting the cysts to be infected, and they were very infected, recently he explained to me that it was "worse than he could have imagined going into the surgery".
3. The biggest cyst (that was in my right sinus cavity) looked pretty sizable on the CT scan, but after taking it out, it was the size of a peach, which is larger than the doctor was expecting.
4. After a recent visit with my doctor, he explained to me that he was pretty much set on the fact that the recovery time would be longer than a year (closer to two years), he just didn't want to explain that to me because he didn't want me to be frustrated, and he figured I would just find out for myself.

--all four of these things seem like they lead to a long, hard, and frustrating road to recovery. However, all four of these things made up to be one of the biggest blessings in my life.

God's timing is PERFECT

The first couple of days after surgery I was obviously frustrated. Frustrated with the fact that I wasn't at Biola anymore, frustrated with the idea of sitting on my butt all day every day for weeks, and I kept telling myself "there's more to life than this".

That is the most selfish statement I could ever say in this situation in my life, after God has blessed me immensely.

The MORE to my life is the gift of Salvation, the blessing of having a Bible handy, the ability to talk to Christ for however long I wanted freely, and the privilege of being able to use my pain as a testimony to the ultimate pain that Christ took for me.

When it all boils down, pain (physical/emotional/spiritual) is not an excuse. If anything, it's more of an opportunity, to tell people what Christ has brought you through. Hallelujah.

The reason I titled this blog "tick, tock" is because God's timing throughout this experience has been the most beautiful thing to experience.

God has used me to be present at the most important time in some people's lives here, whether that be praying for them, fellowshipping with them, or carrying their burden for them, it has been obvious and consistent, and I thank God for that.

God has used me as a vessel to share the Gospel to people that are battling addiction, and to see Christ breakthrough that addiction is better than anything in this world. Praise God for that.

God has used me to be joyful in my trial, as hard as it was to let that go, and as easy as it could have been to fall back into frustration, He always gave me reason to smile, and it's the Grace that only He can provide, and man does He provide in abundance.

To say the least, God used my story, not me, not you, we're all unworthy, He used the story and the plan that He had made to bring ultimate glory to Him and His Kingdom, and I wish I could put into words what that meant to be able to see it unfold firsthand, but I have been left speechless numerous times, it was more incredible than anything I can imagine.

Our God is HEALER

I could go on and on about the specifics of my healing process after the surgery, but I would be typing for days. The doctor used things like "i'm blown away at your healing" "you continue to amaze" "i've never seen anybody recover this quickly from something this serious" "i'm speechless at God's Healing, and I say that because I sure as heck can't heal, especially this quickly."

Thank you Jesus.

I'll close with this.

Wherever you are in your walk with Christ, He has you. He has a perfect plan for you. Your world may be crashing down in front of your but it's crashing to the Hands that hold the world.

Jesus is REAL, and He is alive.

Want to know how I know?

My recovery timeline was at first, 7 months, then one year, then two years.

Now, with tears in my eyes and love in my heart I say...

Biola, I'll see you next semester.


Friday, August 16, 2013

"Cyst"-E-Matic Grace


Those two words crunched into one aren't the most encouraging words to hear. 
There are certain places that you wouldn't want to hear this statement, at the top of that list would probably be the Doctor.

You especially wouldn't want to hear it followed by "this isn't good", and you definitely wouldn't want to hear that at the Doctor.

Well, you can probably guess that I heard this profound the Doctor.

God is able.

Mere days ago I walked into a Nose Doctor because I haven't been able to breathe through my nose, and I was expecting to hear "there's nothing wrong with you, quit freaking out" instead, I received news that would completely change the plans that I had for the next year.

God is always up to something. 

After several CT scans and a lengthy MRI, I systematically received news regarding my facial area that I would have never guessed could happen to me. 

First: one large cyst in my sinus cavity going pushing on my nose and squished against my eye socket.
Second: two pretty good sized cysts, including the cyst in my sinus cavity.
Third: three-four cysts (will be determined during surgery), one large cyst in my right sinus cavity as mentioned above, and two cysts resting on either side of my jaw bone, which has melted a chunk of my jaw bone on each side. And a deviated septum which is related to the cyst, which is why I can't breathe through my nose.

So, pretty much my face is messed up.

God is good.

There have been multiple things that I have learned throughout this whole experience, one big thing being humility, and how blessed we truly are to have people that care about us, specifically doctors, that want to provide top-notch medical care to us Americans simply because they care.

Another thing is that (in my case) I went through three plans;

Plan A: what I want
Plan B: what I will accept
Plan C: what God wants, and what happens

...doesn't that seem messed up? The God that brought me life, and blessed me with a citizenship in a free country, with medical facilities literally down the street...and all I have to offer is STILL plan C?

Thank you Father, for humility.

When the first doctor broke the news to me that I would be missing at least a semester of school, I was broken, confused, and scared. I thought to myself "i'm going to a private school, i'm going to use Your Word through my mouth so that people can come to know you, it's gonna be awesome, so why all of a sudden do I have this come up?"

I've never been so humbled, and felt so selfish.

The truth is I'm not a better person than anybody else and we are all fallen, broken, and immature human beings, and God's delay is not God's denial.

After visiting a second doctor, the news to me was that the surgery is urgent, but not emergent, but the surgery has to be done within the next year, with the risk being potential blindness in my right eye because of the cyst. The doctor then proceeded to say that the surgery needed to be done during Christmas break, and it required a 6-8 month recovery time. I cannot express to you the overwhelming sense of Grace that I experienced when my near future was explained to me by a doctor. 

God's plan and timing is pure perfection.

Will I miss some school? Yes. Is it the end of the world? Absolutely not. It is less than a grain of salt compared to the other problems in the world, and I have no right to complain, or sympathetically boast, about the trouble that has come into my life. Why? Because God has already overcome my trouble, along with every other human being to ever walk the face of the earth. 

The book of John says it best in chapter 16, in which I believe is the most beautiful foreshadowing statement in the history of mankind.

"I have said these things to you, that in ME you may have PEACE. In this world you WILL have troubles. But take heart! I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD."

If that doesn't make you want to jump up and down in praise and adoration, check your pulse, forreal. 

God is good, and I'm going to be okay.

I love every single one of you, let us pray together. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Love on Life Support

I want to start off by having a disclaimer: I have been pondering if I should have a response to the madness that has broken out around social media today, but God has settled me with who should be my number one priority, and why I should always remember that God will ALWAYS be number one, even if the publics reaction is not positive.

Americans today are tipsy.
Some spiritually.
Some physically.
Most mentally.

Why do I say that Americans are tipsy? Because we just want to fit in. We want to do what everybody else is doing so we participate in the activities that it entails. Somebody says something really deep, and we attach to it, hopelessly, and we support it so much that we change our entire facebook to revolve around "it"...for a day.

I literally will not be able to sleep tonight, unless some things are said, and if they have to be said by me, let it be.

1. The reason my title is "Love on Life Support" is because this is that big of an issue, that needs to be addressed and prayed for.
2. There is a huge difference between loving and supporting.

I just wanted to take this time to address some of the things that I read today, and do my best to explain them, with the Word of God, which is most people like to argue this with.

Please, stop making the Word of God comfortable for the selfish desires of this messed up thing that we call "society".

One thing I have seen today, also the most popular, is the saying "God loved, so we should love."
The thing is, that is absolutely right.
God does say "Love one another, as I have loved you"; and frankly, if that is all that the saying means then it is very accurate.
However, that line is usually followed by something along the lines of "Proposition 8", which therefore means it has now become a support group.

Like I said earlier, there is a HUGE difference between loving and supporting something.

I can say right now that I LOVE homosexuals , that doesn't meant that I support the homosexual lifestyle.

Also Jesus says "I love the sinner, I hate the sin."
--That is a PRIME example of loving and supporting.

I love who you are, I don't support what you do.

Another thing that I have seen today, is something along the lines of "God created homosexuals for a reason!"

-This is sadly mistaken.

God did not create homosexual people, in fact in His Word, it's pretty much the exact opposite.

In the VERY FIRST book of the Bible.

"So God created human beings in HIS OWN IMAGE. In the image of GOD He created them; male and female He created them" Genesis 1:27

God created people in His own image.

He created people to live like He did, if they just believe.

And if you believe with your heart that Jesus is the Son of God, it should MAKE people that are following the patterns of the world to want to REPENT just by observing you.

As Christians, that is one of our main focuses: to make disciples of ALL nations (that doesn't just mean countries, necessarily) and to repent from the patterns of this world and have an attitude of Christ that others might see and believe.

Christ did not have an attitude like Proposition 8, as a matter of fact in the Old Testament in Genesis 19 He destroyed a city for reasons, one main reason being homosexuality.

One final thing that I have seen today is, "We are no longer under Old Testament law!"
-High Five! You're right.

However, homosexuality, sexual immorality, abortion, and other issues are seen in the New Testament as well.

I will use one example found in 1 Corinthians:
"Don't you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't FOOL yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or abusive, or cheat people-none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God." 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

*you may put your spiritual checklist down now*

This verse also brings up another argument that says "well if homosexuality is immoral, so is sexual immorality so we are all going to Hell." The first part of that statement is true, the second, check out the very next verse in this Chapter:

"Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (v. 11)

In verse 11, Paul is talking about repentance.

Repentance means completely doing a 180 from the acts that you have previously been guilty of and changing your lifestyle completely around to exemplify Christ.

Some people are guilty of sexual immorality, some people are guilty of other things found in 1 Corinthians 6, and those people have also repented from it which is a beautiful sight to see.

It's never to late, friends.

Last but not least, there is God's definition of marriage which is that marriage should be between "a man and a woman" there is no "if, and, or but" in that definition.

To wrap up, I just wanted to suggest that if you don't believe a specific part of the Bible, you don't believe the Bible.

Unfortunately for some people, the Word was not meant to be a buffet where people can come pick and choose what they believe in and still somehow fit in and be "popular" in this society.

Love everyone. Please, don't support everyone. And finally, as Christians we are called to live like Christ that others would turn away from the patterns of this world, please don't miss that.

I love every one of you.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

why I'm leaving Arkansas.

Dear Friends,

As some of you may know, this is my last semester at the University of Arkansas. I am both saddened to leave such incredible people behind, but elated to jump on the plan for my life that was destined for me before I was even know by my parents.

God has really been at work in my life throughout the past year, and challenging me and taking me places I never even dreamt I would think about going to. However, this journey has been one of the biggest blessings in my life.

At the University of Arkansas, I was majoring in Criminal Justice/Psychology, and I honestly had no clue why. God really got a hold of me and said "I KNOW your plans, I KNOW what you're going to be doing 5 years from now, stop selfishly determining your future, and let me handle it." So, I realized how stubborn and spiritually immature I was becoming, and gave my future up to my Father.

For those of you that know my past, it wasn't unicorns and rainbows. And I firmly believe, more so now, that was given to me for a reason, and that reason involves my future. I have always had a passion for the precious children of God and I yearn to include them in my life in some aspect.

After praying continuously for direction, I have never felt more at peace, and more accountability at any campus in America than I felt at Biola University. Biola is a private school in Los Angeles, CA and is where I will finish out my Undergrad/maybe some Grad studies for College.

I know what you're thinking, LOS ANGELES?? That place is sketch and dark and gross. To that I respond, bring on the uncomfortable, if I let Jesus flow out of every part of me the result would be nothing less than unbelievable.

So, what are your plans now, Lathan? My plan is still being determined, but I am deciding between two different majors, or potentially another double major, but my future is as follows: I firmly believe God has given me a gift, a gift of communication, and a gift of interacting in a Spiritual way with many people that cross my paths. SO, I plan to go to Seminary and pursue a degree in Pastoral Ministry or Youth Ministry and also become a certified Counselor so I can spend some of my time as a Child/Trauma Counselor with the God's precious little ones.

You're going to be a Pastor? How are you going to make a living? To that I respond, money is an object, although a necessity of an object, it's an object. Experiencing Christ and being able to talk about Christ to the Church on a weekly basis, is more than enough "money" than I would ever need and God promises that He provides.

I am going to genuinely miss the friendships that I have built in the beautiful land of Fayetteville, and I am incredibly excited about what the future holds for me and my walk with Christ.

I whole-heartedly say that I was living for my selfish desires and what I wanted, and not what Christ wanted and there is a verse in the Word that I have been chewing on ever since this whole roller-coaster of a journey began and it is what I will leave you with:

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by FAITH in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20

and, one more...

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way YOU think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you , which is good and pleasing and perfect." Romans 12:2

God bless each and every one of you.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hey, Thanks Adam.

There are quite a few different controversies among our society today. There are the obvious ones like National Debt, and Gun Control, and God in Schools and Gay Marriage, all of which are legitimate and healthy topics to debate on.

However, in my opinion I think we as Believers or as Non-Believers have missed the biggest "controversy" in the History of the World, and it also happens to be the reason we are what we are.

Who is to blame, Adam or Eve?

Most people would say Adam, because he was the man for a reason and he was the one that Christ first seeked out in the Garden after the forbidden fruit was bitten.

Some people say Eve, because she was the one that actually fell into the sin, and into the evil and took the first bite out of the fruit, and that qualifies her to be the reason we are now all in this "mess".

All of that to say, I think Genesis 3, is a real-life example of many modern-day believers today. If the Bible could be accurate with how the world is today, it would arguably be most accurate in Genesis 3, for a couple of reasons.

1. The Persuasion of Sin. In the very first verse of Genesis 3, Satan's first persuasion line is "Did God REALLY say you can't eat from ANY tree in the garden?" That reminds me a lot of peer pressure today. "Is it REALLY a sin to lie, come on man LIEING; there's people out there getting murdered and you're worried about LYING?" That persuasion could be compared to the type of persuasion that Satan gave to Eve in the Garden over 3000 years ago.

2. Realizing the Rhetorical. In verse 11, God asks His first of millions of rhetorical questions. After He confronted Adam (the men not the women, the same reason is still applied today) He asks "who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" I don't know about you, but one of the worst feelings in the world is somebody asking you if you messed up, when they already know you messed up, they just want to hear you say it. Christ reveals Himself here and basically says "so, you want to explain this mess to me? I mean I already know it, but since you're the man why don't you just tell me what happened..." This could be compared to every modern day believer because when we mess up, and God doesn't "smite" us, naturally we push the limit a little more. But the scariest fate is, that if we don't ask for forgiveness, Christ is going to have a list of rhetorical questions for us at the Judgement Throne.

3. Believing the Excuse Believer. In verse 12, Adam points fingers because of his state of panic and declares "the woman You gave to be with me- she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate." This is the very first time an excuse is used on why somebody knowingly failed Jesus Christ. In this very verse, Adam uses emotional appeal to TRY to convince His Father. Adam explains "hey you know that woman, that you gave to me a while back, yeah she's the reason I failed you man, I'm sorry but I wouldn't have done it if it weren't for her."That sounds quite a bit like a lot of us today. Why did you commit that sin, "oh well, my friend did it and nothing happened to him, so I thought it would be cool if I gave it a try." Christ didn't create us with hands of blame, but with hands of wisdom, if we truly believe in Him, we shouldn't throw our accountability partners under so we think we look better to the Eyes of Grace.

4. Christ bringing us back down to "earth". After hearing both sides of the story, and listening to all of the excuses and all of the blames on why Adam and Eve fell short of the glory of God, Christ says the most declaring, legitimate thing He could say to anyone, and He said it in the very first book of the Bible, in verse 19 Christ says "for you are dust, and you will return to dust." I can only imagine the look on Adam's face when the Lord of Lords said that to him. There is also a reason that God said it to Adam, not to Eve, and I believe that reason is because men tend to have slightly bigger ego's than women do. But in a modern day perspective, God looks at Adam and says "you know, thank you for entertaining me with your stories on he said she said, I know what really happen, but listen, when I first saw you, you were DEAD...and guess what, no matter what you accomplish in life, no matter what you think you are, you will return physically DEAD, and that's all I have to say." What an intense realization, we were all dust, and no matter what we're going to end up as dust. It sure is a good thing that God promises Salvation through the Grace of God to our little particles of dust that we will return.

We can blame Adam or Eve for the fall of humanity, but the men of God should take note from Genesis 3, and notice why there was man before there was woman, and why God confronted the man in the Garden, not the woman.

We may blame Adam for sending us down an unending path, but we follow in his footsteps with every prideful thought, hateful action, and every drop of greed. We are Adam. We earn our rightful place in death and make clear our need for grace.

Father, give us that grace that only comes from the great Supplier.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Persecution is a Gorgeous Thing.

"to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict; specifically to cause to suffer because of BELIEF."(Websters)

There is a reason that I am not able to sleep at night. There is a reason that my stomach is churning at the moment. God has started to break my heart, and it's devastating to see the results.

Persecution is a gorgeous thing.

When I wasn't a mature Christian (I'm not saying I'm perfect now), I would let other people do the dirty work, and I would just stick with my label and use it as a "get out of jail free" card whenever I wanted. I honestly didn't care who knew Jesus or who didn't know Jesus, and I was completely okay with that. The moment at the end of the service when the Pastor mentioned going and telling others about Jesus, I was too busy zipping up my bible, closing my pen, and wondering what lunch is going to bring me within the hour. I would see my lost friends' statuses on facebook and respond in a "well, that stinks" kind of way whenever they were struggling or depressed when it was CLEAR that Jesus was saying "Hello! You know this would be a GREAT opportunity to tell this person about ME." But, I was stubborn.

If you ask God for something, don't be surprised when you get EXACTLY what you asked for.

It is literally impossible for me to not look at a facebook status that is completely bashing God's Creation or God in general and not want to vomit. There are numerous people going down the path MOST traveled by when the way to Righteousness with Christ is the opposite direction. We see God's Creation every single day and Instagram it, but are too comfortable to give the background of it. There are moments that I wish every non-believer had "God-moments" that I have and shake them and say "He will do this for YOU." It doesn't matter how low you've come from, or what all the "nastiness" in your life consists of, He still longs for you. He still thinks about you. He still has others pray about you that you would find Him. He's still your real Father. I will even be cliche and say if God can save me, He can save anyone.

I've never liked the answer "no", at all. It's probably because of how many times I was rejected by highly attractive women, but I didn't like being told that what I said or what I asked is not justifiable and will not happen. Now in life, I YEARN to be told no. If you tell someone about Christ, they will read it, and either the stubborn Enemy will respond, or a lot of questions will follow. Most of the time, the answer is no, and that is completely okay. That's not God saying, "ha! you think you can do that? think again". It's a blessing in disguise. Just the idea that you took the time to tell your friend or your enemy about God's unfailing love, is pleasing in God's eyes and He just wants you to plant the seed.

Don't kill the weeds and plant the seed, let God take care of the weeds.

In God's Word it says "But in your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord. ALWAYS be prepared to give an answer to EVERYONE who asks you to give the reason for the HOPE that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." (1 Peter 3:15)

There is Hope for everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord, there is Hope for the lost to turn to the Creator, there is Hope for the believer who is tired of Persecution, and there is Hope in Christ because Satan HAS BEEN defeated, even though he may seem apparent in the stubborn.

Father, I pray that in Your name, hearts of stone be melted. In Your name, the enemy be moved out of the stubborn hearts. In Your name, the blasphemous turn to believers. And Father, dare I say it, I pray for revival.