Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Movin' On

So i am finally leaving East LA. Not, "finally, i can't stand this place," but finally after much debate and prayer. It is always hard leaving one place for another even if the other place is a better place.

I am taking the last once over in my old apartment, checking drawers and closets for anything i forgot. Much like a spiritual inventory. Anytime you move on - physically or spiritually - you look at some things that you like and want to keep, others that need to be thrown out and some things you have tucked away that really need to be thrown out or are sweet rediscoveries to be revived.

This is a very exciting move for me. I will be moving closer to my family in Christ, of whom i can say with confidence love me sacrificially. Though i will miss my community here in East LA that loss does not compare to the fellowship and community i am gaining in West LA. I am sure you can see the parallel so i'll refrain from spelling it out.

Peace out ELA!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Woke Up at 4am...

Sometimes things get rough and sometimes our God gets hard to see through the roughness. Sad, but it happens. How could we possibly forget or allow something to overpower our minds from the image of the cross? Because we are fallen and everyone has fallen short of the glory of God. Yet that should not bring sadness, but joy. Let me 'esplain.

We fall short and God The Father loves us still. We fall short yet He remains perfect and strong. If we did not fall short here on earth we would fail to see the accomplishments of the cross. Not only that, but if we were perfect that would make God (who is infallible) a liar, but if we have not fallen then what did Christ die for? Christ accomplished
on the cross more than we can understand, one being our reconciliation to God because of our sin. Yet, "1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:1-4)."

Whenever life seems to get so rough that i begin to lose sight, i go to 1 Peter 1:3-7:
"3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

I remember my pastor talking about gold. He said, back in the day a gold smith would melt the gold in a pot. As they turn up the heat the "not great gold" comes to the top and becomes like the "film on jello". They would then scrape that stuff off, throw it to the side and it was called, "unapproved". The heat stays on, the not great gold continues to come to the surface and the gold smith continues to scrape it off. When the gold smith can look over this gold - that has all this heat on it - and can actually see his face reflected in it, he says, "approved", "genuine", "real gold". Our faith is tested to make it genuine so that God can see His face in us. So that at
the revelation of Jesus Christ we can say, "i waited for You, i saw You pointing me to You and it gave me hope". When you put your hope in the inheritance to come you get a joy that is too beautiful to understand in this life.

God, the Creator of the universe, has power and control over all. There is nothing in your life He does not know about and there is nothing bigger than Him. He loves you and is guarding you by His power through faith.

Check out The Cup and the Glory and Why You Can Make It Through Anything

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Weep and Rejoice

For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:5 (NIV)

When the righteous fall, they are never left lying there; when they stumble they are never forsaken. The Father's love displayed on the cross saves us.

Though we may experience gaping depths of sorrow, we also equally are filled with joy through Christ. We are co-heirs with Christ, to share in suffering so we may also share in Christ's glory [Rom 8:17; 2 Corin 1:5; Phil 1:29; 3:10].

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Mas!

... doesn't sound quite right does it. It doesn't make any sense to take Christ out of Christmas, yet every year thousand, if not millions do!

Merry Mas!
What is mas?
More of what?
I don't know.

Let us have more Christ.

Monday, December 22, 2008

“God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able”

Daily i learn the gift that is suffering. I learn that through it i am getting to know my God, my Lord, my Savior and the way He loves me.

So i get these headaches that are pretty incredible. It sounds as if there is a generator in my head, and it is churning my brain as it pulls on my retinal nerve and medulla oblongata sending shock waves through the nerves in my neck, head, eyes and face. It is something i never thought someone could feel and reminds me of those mobster movies when someone is being tortured. When they come on i am down for the count. All i can do is lie as still as i can, breathe slowly and deeply and talk to God. Now if you have ever been injured - be it stubbing your toe, enduring electric shock or being stabbed...paper cuts count too - you know the last things you do are hold still, breathe and talk to God. We usually bounce around, hold our breath and cry out. It isdefinitely by God's grace that i get through these times of pain; such pain as i never knew or would have chosen for myself. As Paul states in 1 Corinthians 10:13, God knows exactly what we are able to endure and does not give us more than what we are capable. That goes the same for earthly gifts/treasures as for suffering/loss, but that is another post altogether.

So one night i had the worst pain i had ever felt. I was lying in bed trying to relax and talk to my Daddy. Then something crazy happened. It was the oddest feeling. The pain was not dulled or lifted but i felt lifted. I don't think i can describe in words what happened but it was as if God was saying, "This is all you can handle." I may have hit my max pain threshold... for now. Like training in a sport, once you exhaust a muscle the next time you can take on more.

Knowing my God, my Abba Father will not give me more than i can endure is such a comfort and surprise. I never would have thought my threshold for pain would be this. Maybe someone bigger and stronger than me! It makes me wonder how much more He knows i can take. It also makes me wonder if Jesus is thinking, "Oh please, i could endure that in my sleep!"

Okay, so i don't think Jesus would be that caustic with me but really... no one is even close to being capable of enduring what Jesus did. These two truths about God the Father and Jesus are such a comfort. We may not know the reason He brings us to such a place, but it grows us. I am definitely not the same person i was when i took my first step with Christ. What is wonderful and scary is we have further to go for He isn't done with us yet. It may not be the path that we would have chosen for ourselves but He never said it would be easy. Yet He did say we wouldn't go at it alone.

Where ever You call me, i will go. If it means being closer to You, lead me there, i will go.

Friday, December 19, 2008

His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Matthew 26:36-39:
36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here, while I go over there and pray." 37And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." 39And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will."

Mark 14:32-36:
32 And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." 33And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34And he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch." 35And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36And he said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."

Luke 22:39-44:
39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation." 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done." 43And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Jesus had complete communion with the Father, knew exactly what He was called to do, what He would endure and thus accomplish. Even so, He was still in such anguish to the point of sweating blood (hematidrosis). After such anguish, then affliction came the cross - how beautiful is the cross!

Knowledge of what is ahead, doesn't make the burden any less painful. I don't know exactly what i am called to do. I don't know what else i am to endure, yet i trust my Father will not give me more than He can carry me through. He will not leave me alone. He will not forsake me [Deu 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5; Psalm 37:25; 2 Corin 4:9]. I know God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose [Rom 8:28]. I trust these truths, even so i am in anguish. When the pain was localized to my hands and i could barely afford food, i couldn't imagine handling anything more. Looking back now, things were simpler and easier then.

Sweating blood was the precursor of the affliction upon Jesus. Then came the cross.
I do not know if i am yet sweating blood, (figuratively of course) or if i am in the midst of the affliction; yet it is clear the 'hour' of suffering has come. I rest in God's promise that at the end is something so magnificent that i am unable to see, imagine or understand. I am in no way saying i am equal to Christ, but a sinner made in the likeness of God and called to strive to be like Christ. In His life i see that things grew very grim before God revealed His glory. Things seem grim and i do not know how much more there is, but God is good and will glorify Himself in me. That is a promise.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008


If limitations do not discourage you, they give you an opportunity to be creative. With pain in my hands, i have discovered many interesting ways of opening heavy doors and carrying things. None of which would be beneficial to anyone who doesn't suffer from the same pain. And that small victory still doesn't make me feel any less lame.

As a musician though, my creativity can be enjoyable to others... if not just to me. Before i had pain in my hands, i was a percussionist and learning guitar. When i had to retire those desires, i took up tap and singing. Now that i have pain everywhere, tap is a big 'no no' but i can sing as long as i do not have pain in my throat. Singing actually helps to quell my headaches; i think it has something to do with breath flow and the vibrations... but i digress.

Today i was feeling a bit spry so i picked up my guitar. I was only able to bust out one verse before my left hand began screaming with pain. Despondent, i sat there with my head down finger picking without holding a chord... which gets old quick. A bit frustrated, i lightly slapped the guitar neck and it made this beautiful percussive sound with multiple tones. So i began to ever so lightly drum on the neck and sound hole of the guitar. I realize i am not a genius for figuring this out. In fact i'm kind of an idiot for not figuring it out sooner - i saw August Rush! Regardless, it made me so happy to be making music again! No need to spend hours building up chops, no bleeding fingers, just music. I was able to combine my favorite two instruments and make music that ministered to my heart, not my pain.
Next step, add voice... once this incessant poking in my throat ceases.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,"
Hebrews 12:1

Monday, December 15, 2008

Proverbs 25:20

Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day,
or like vinegar poured on soda,
is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.


Sometimes quick answers are the worse thing to offer when people are going through a hard time. In well meaning attempts to lift someone's spirits, we move too fast. It would seem ridiculous to visit someone who has just experienced major surgery and try to pull them out of the hospital bed to get them to exercise. In the same way, sometimes people need the space to grieve for a while. To try to bypass a heavy heart can add more pain to the process. Sometimes the best thing that we can do is to weep when they weep, or just sit with them in silence. The comfort comes not in our cheerful songs, but our presence.

Today's commentary by:
Dave Whitehead, Senior Pastor, Grace NYC

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Psalm 34:18

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Quote of my Life...

... but first some background.
I came to Christ just before my 25th birthday and after that, my health began to fade, i lost my job, friends, apartment and began living in my car. Two years ago i came to live in CSULA housing and found my church family at Shoreline Community Church. This is the longest i have lived in one place and probably the safest i have ever felt despite all the physical and financial suffering.

God is now shaking me, again. I am moving out in three weeks (to where i don't yet know) and selling my car. My Pastor was comforting me in that, regardless of weather or not i have a place to live, i will not be on the streets... "and that's a step up." ;-)
Tonight i was telling my Shore - sisters about selling my car. Meredith piped in, "that is kinda scary... 'cause it used to be your home." ;-D
I laughed so hard my neck popped... only my family!

As i drove to my apartment it hit me how true that can be. Sometimes getting rid of stuff (material or relational or even your own body) is hard because that thing is our home. That stuff provides some form of comfort and we begin to rely on it. God has stripped me of so much stuff that used to be my home and i am so grateful!

It is only because of Christ that i can laugh at their light hearted jokes... and because i love them and know they love me. Now, instead of relying on earthly stuff that will fade with this life, i have an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. In Christ my hope is secure. I can trust that my God, my Daddy will take care of and provide for me so that i gladly shed any material thing.
With all that i have been through, "I would have lost heart,
unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait on the Lord,
be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart.
Wait, I say, on the Lord!"
Psalm 27:13-14

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.... I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
John 15:1-2, 5

A commentary from, i forget whom: Notice that both branches get cut. The difference is in how we respond to the pain of the pruning. In many ways, the way that we bear the pruning is how we know that we are growing in our relationship with God. Do we get bitter, or better? What does the experience of loss or hindrance expose in us? Our Father is a faithful gardener, ready to cut off the things in our lives that don't bear fruit, and reminding the fruitful ones that our life is not in the fruit, but only in the vine.

That is an interesting thought, cut off the things in our lives that don't bear fruit
. So i think of the things in my life that have been cut off - health, finances, friendships, family - good things that God has soveriegnly severed. Is it because these things did not/would not bear fruit? I am not exactly sure... any thoughts?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

There is Something About Music

There is definitely something divine about music.

There is even an entire book in the Bible (or five depending on how you look at it) that is composed for/to music. Clearly God created everything; yet there is something special about music.
If you listen to the radio, most of the music is about love or at least some form of it. I believe that humans have such an attachment to love because we were created in love, in the image of Love, by Love, to love. Simply put: God, who is Love, created us to love and be loved by Him. That is why we have such an attachment to it. Sadly, the image of love has been distorted by the fallen world so that, so many people chase after what they think is Love, blindly. We were created to chase God (Love) but instead we chase what this world tells us love is.

Love is such a crazy thing that it cannot be fully expressed in words - it is above speech. We do not have the capacity to fully understand God and since God is Love how could we possibly begin to describe something that we do not fully understand. However, there is something about music that gives us the ability to express it more fully. There is something in the sharps and flats, chord progressions, crescendo and decrescendo, minor falls and major lifts or a ritenuto assai that speaks from the soul. Emotions so great that they can only be expressed through music.

Today I took my finals. I had one final exam covering stagecraft tools as well as painting; and the other, vocal performance. Unfortunately, i have been really struggling with my health these past few weeks so that i haven't had the energy to properly study. Praise God that i have been around painting, tools and construction long enough that i'm pretty well versed in stagecraft. As for my vocal jury (final), I have been a musician since i was eleven, however; I have just begun my vocal training. Regardless, when i am in pain music is soothing. Listening to my repertoire not only calmed me but also allowed me to "study", so today I was well prepared. Yet something happened when i got on stage. I had two songs to sing, O Cessate di Piagarmi by Alessandro Scarlatti and Evensong by Morgan and Lehmann.

I started with the Italian piece and did fairly well. Translated to English, the lyrics are basically pleading; oh no longer seek to pain me, give over and let me die...ect. It is composed to a lullaby tune so it is almost soothing as it is crying out. Musically i understood what i was saying; yet lyrically as i was singing, i only really understood that piagarmi means pain, martir means cry and morir means die. For this reason i really like Italian. I am able to express the emotion without choking on the words. Plus the language is more desirable for pure vowels.
On the second song, because i knew exactly what i was saying, i got choked up. Some of the lyrics are: fold your white wings, dear angels, across the lawn lie shadows, so still, so deep. Dear loving angels pass not by, hush me to sleep. Fold your white wings, dear angels, fold them round me. In the midst of what i'm going through, those are very hard words to say, let alone sing. Coupled with the score (and the musicality of my pianist) it was pretty gut wrenching.

So this is what I think. In the English language 'cry', 'pain', and 'death' are not joyful things, yet the Bible teaches us the opposite. Jesus, for the joy set before him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). Suffering is a gift (Philippians 1:29), and death brings us face to face with our Creator where there are no more tears or sorrow (Isaiah 25:8). This fallen world has deceivingly driven into our bodies an emotional reaction attached to a word. To a worldly person, death is to be avoided. To a Christian, death is to be celebrated. Because we are in this world but not of it, we are stuck in a crazy juxtaposition. This makes our language confusing and deceiving, whereas music is a more pure form communication. This is also why I adore dancing so much. I am able to take my physical body, of which God perfectly crafted the way He intended, and use it in a worshipful manner. Dancing alone is splendid, yet when aided by music (perhaps some Vivaldi, Brahms, or Mozart) it is divine.
I think King David and i would have been good friends.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Shut Up and Drink

Praying for myself lately has been difficult. I realize that the hour has come, i am called to drink of this cup. I am not happy about it and it isn't something i chose, but God chose it so it must be good.

Today i spent 7 hours in a waiting room so the doctor could tell me my appointments were never made and that all my blood tests are normal. It makes me wish i could ignore and hide the pain. There isn't any proof of my symptoms other than what i say. The way the doctors look at me makes me feel like a liar. The way people look at me makes me feel like a poser. The other day i was on my scooter and a guy stopped me in the elevator:
Guy: You just taking it easy?
Me: What?
Guy: You just taking it easy?
Me: I don't understand.
Guy: You are not disabled.
Me: Excuse me?
Guy: Your legs look too strong for you to be disabled. So you ride to take it easy.
Me: i have neuropathy.
Guy: Whats that?

Sigh. You are right. You got me. I'm not disabled, i am lazy. I am not in pain, i like hanging out in the ER all day... praise God my filter is working and i've never said that to anyone... just you, my one loyal reader ;-).

Jesus gave an amazing example of prayer for these situations.

John 17:1-5 1When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

Matthew 26:39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will."

I have trouble with praying this over and over. No matter how true, it becomes trite to the point that i just shut up and drink. I ask only how i may glorify God through it; though deep down i feel it is enough already... crying like i am innocent.
I guess praying that prayer over and over isn't necessary. I have prayed, God knows how i feel better than i do so... ? Father the hour has come, let me suffer well.