Crickets sound like humans singing

Composer Jim Wilson recorded the sound of crickets, but this is no ordinary recording- neither is it manipulated. Crickets live much shorter lives than humans do, so the composer slowed down the original track to reflect the life span of humans. The result is surprising and beautiful. I can’t stop listening to it.

Here’s my guess on what they’re saying:

…Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Revelation 4:8

Two tracks are played simultaneously as a reference. Take a listen-

Check out the original article on enpundit here

Why go, why not just send money?

Why do people go over seas to help people in need? Why not just send money? This is a question that is asked all too often. It’s also often coupled with the question, “why don’t you just help people here (locally)?” First of all, do not be dismayed at any criticism you might receive for wanting to help overseas.  Most people who are involved anywhere (either locally or internationally) tend to be both supportive and understanding of people who are doing work anywhere. And my quick answer to the last question is, “Well, why can’t we do both?” There’s no question that there are people in the United States who need help ascending from the lower class to enter into the middle class; but, the fact remains, our lower class is truly rich compared to people in many countries, and Myanmar especially. There is really no comparison. But back to the question, why not just send money- the answers were life altering for me.

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HOPE- We bring people hope! I know this sounds like a cliché, but it’s so much more significant than we could ever realize. Amos, who was one of the first orphans raised at the main orphanage where we serve, that is led by an incredible native pastor, now has his own small orphanage that he runs with his wife. It is the orphanage that is most on my heart, out of all the need that I see there from the many orphanages we visited. He told me during a conversation we had one night that “Watching us play with the orphans gave [him] hope.” He was very real with us in regards to the difficulties of caring for the kids, and he reiterated that watching us play with the kids out of our love for them was revitalizing and gave him a renewed hope. That was the most incredible thing that I could have ever heard. After all, he is the person who was there before we arrived and would stay after we left.

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MONEY WITHOUT LOVE- Imagine having your parents only give you money and never actually be there for you. How would you feel? How much stronger would you be if you had experienced the love and hope that comes from your parents actually showing up and demonstrating love through their physical presence- the warmth of their hugs, and the caring in their eyes. Hope allows people to press on, even in the most dire of situations. And there’s more.

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What is money without love? I would say it is worthless, but I also question whether it even exists. It takes love, either from the person giving or the person asking for donations, to get people to donate. It takes a person who loves people who are in need to communicate and to get people to rally behind the need. For me, this required showing up in order to first love these children to the point that I would take up their cause.

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Let’s face it; we’re desensitized to commercials on TV asking for donations and the need that people have in this world. We forget that the kids in need are real children, with real hearts, who have real pain. It doesn’t matter how much my mentor talked about the needs these kids have; even through all his tears and after everything he communicated, there was no way I could possibly understand how precious these orphans are and the extent of what their needs are without actually going myself. To further emphasize this reality, I did not initially have a super compelling reason to go. I did not feel “called” by God to go. I just rested on what the bible says, knowing that no matter what I feel, I am called to go. We all are. We’re called to go and serve both here and there. My calling came only after I was obedient to God’s word.

Wash and make yourselves clean.
    Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
    stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.[a]
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow. Isaiah 1:16,17

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LIVES CHANGED- Not only are we able to bring love, our physical presence, and hope to such precious orphans and their incredible leaders, not only are we able to bring financial support and supplies, but we’re able to come back and take up their cause! Only after having been there and seeing the need of kids who I now care for with all my heart, am I willing to come back and devote many hours of my life to their cause. Through my change of heart, my friends and family are also able to hear about who they are, and why they are so special. After hearing my story, people have offered to get involved. My hope is that eventually a few people are able to go as well to experience what I did, return, and continue to take up their cause as well so that more people who are unaware will no longer be in the dark.

Below is a video of the time that me and a few close friends spent in myanmar. Please take the time to watch the video and understand a little bit more about those precious little kids.

We are now selling stockings and wreaths for our return on December 16, 20013. We will be feeding thousands of people on Christmas day and sending clothes, as well as more financial support for the orphans! Please email me at David@Beltran.com for info, follow me on IG @BEL_TRON and check out my profile- CAUSES.COM/SOW – if you would like to contribute monthly or one time donations to our cause.

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Many Members, One Body

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After reading through Exodus 35 I was presented with a profound question:
“What is my uniqueness?”

After some self-reflection I came to the conclusion that conformity is a lot more integrated into my thinking than I realized. After walking with God for nearly a year now I’ve seen various directions people have taken and suggestions as well as some societal boundaries among the body of believers. I realized that some of us have trouble trying to define what is “spiritual” or “secular” or identifying what service unto God vs. service unto the world looks like. It’s uncomfortable, even awkward at times and it can lead people to conforming even unconsciously to “fit in” to the flow of things. I’ve noticed that certain aspirations can be thought of as “higher callings” while others that aren’t as in the limelight are overlooked. What Exodus 35 tells me is that God pays close attention to detail and that every individual piece matters.

10 “All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the Lord has commanded: 11 the tabernacle with its tent and its covering, clasps, frames, crossbars, posts and bases;
Exodus 35: 11-12 (NIV)

In the beginning of my walk with Christ I bought in to a lot of super-imposed goals that many fellow believers aspired to. I thought I was called to be a pastor, a worship leader, a missionary and a youth leader all in one and I dove in; I disregarded what my heart was telling me and convinced myself into thinking that I desired all these things outside of my own expertise or ability. In Exodus 35 Moses is describing to the Israelite community the lengthy and detailed instructions to build the Tabernacle and how God required “all who are skilled among you” to “make everything The Lord has commanded…” This had to have been speaking to the hearts of those who were comfortable with who they were–those who knew beyond a shadow of a doubt their God-given strengths and abilities.

I asked myself, “Would I be among them?” “Would I be someone who knew what I could uniquely offer to God?” And I can honestly say that I don’t fully know, which is scary.

Who was God looking to to build His holy place in the Old Testament, arguably the single most important construction in human history? “All who are skilled among you,” or in other words to those who knew their purpose.

I think I have experienced an identity crisis in the body of Christ and that is no one else’s fault but my own and God has been dealing with me in this regard ever since. What I discovered is that I simply listened to what everyone else said about me and not to what God has said about me all along.

30 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 32 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze,33 to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. 34 And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. 35 He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.
Exodus 35: 30-35 (NIV)

What I have learned is that from the smallest components to the largest, most integral pieces, God needs all of us and all that we can offer. Don’t be afraid of your uniqueness, own it. If your strength is in sewing, cooking, painting or making lattes, do it with boldness and with the grace of God behind you, knowing that you are fulfilling a purpose in His kingdom and you are an important part of His plan.

What is in you that God wants you to recognize for His sake?

What unique skills and abilities has God blessed you with for the purpose of His glory?

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
1 Corinthians 12:15-20 & 27 (NIV)

Be Undefined

There is a trap in which we as individuals place ourselves, and it is closer to home than we imagine; it’s your other half, or in other words, your alter ego. Who is it that you portray yourself as being to the world? I have certain friends who will only post about financial success, political inclination, about body building, techie stuff, or the like. Sometimes this behavior is obvious, other times it’s much more subtle, but in both cases, a person’s alter ego can limit their behavior, speech, and even thoughts.

I remember going to watch a few people running to be the representative of a local district, one of whom was a libertarian. Every time this person answered, he said, “well, as a libertarian, I beleive…” Really? Do you have any opinions of your own, or have you limited your own thoughts to that the libertarian party?  It’s difficult to believe that this person does not have one opinion that contradicts with the general party to which he subscribes, yet his answers proved otherwise.

Too often, I see people limited by the way they portray themselves to others (their alter-ego). It’s pretty easy to read in people. This is demonstrated in the way they have to live a life consistent with the way they believe others view them (whether accurate or not). If they think people view them as a party animal, they do everything they can to get credit for being one. People go as far as to define themselves in ideologies in which at first they know nothing about. This person is called “the poser.” -A person seeking to be justified by a particular behavior, even if they know very little about that particular subject. And there are people throughout the entire spectrum.

The problem is that whether we know little or a lot about a subject, we should be cautious not to allow a subject to limit who we are, and what we possibly believe. For non-christians, this would call them to be open to understanding about God by having an empty cup that is genuinely interested in learning and experiencing something in a way they haven’t in the past. For Christians, this is more a call to make sure we’re not putting God in a box. The only thing we should subscribe to as complete truth (regardless of your interpretation) is the bible, and realize that one person’s commentary or mindset even in regards to our faith, may not be what God truly wants for a person’s own life.

Christ called us to freedom! He didn’t call us to limit ourselves, but to freedom. “It is for freedom that Christ set us free” (Galatians 5:1). He called us to be free from a yoke of slavery (a spirit of religion), to be free from fear, and to be free in general, again not to put God in a box, but to be led by the spirit, wherever that may lead.

Small Things

“‘Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.’ (These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range throughout the earth.)”
Zechariah 4:10 (NIV)

This verse has resonated in my life recently and I want to briefly share my experience with The Lord’s “small things.”

I got saved in October of 2012 and immediately Jesus shook the foundations of my world. As a budding flower blooms and accepts its rightful place in the sky, my life was transformed and continues to unfold from the inside out. I encountered truth for the first time in my life and was accepted into a community of people who truly knows what it means to love. Jesus’s words, “…and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NIV) have become alive in my own story. Forgiveness and transparency are continuing to flow through me and into the ruins and corpses of relationships and dreams I thought were long dead. Now my connection and desire for His presence is like a river, flowing every day with new currents, uncovering new cracks and crevices in the ground beneath it.

Pressing on in my walk with Jesus, I am beginning to uncover the beauty and magnitude of the “small things” in life.

I have been working for close to 3 years for Affliction Clothing, taking on multiple positions and duties during my time here and was most recently promoted to the Graphic Design team. I have no experience in the field and it just so happened that they needed a hand to help out with the Film process the graphics undergo before they are sent to be screen-printed. It’s the lowest job on the totem pole when it comes to Graphic Design but an important one at that. It is my responsibility to double and triple-check the films and graphics to make sure that all the colors are called out correctly and that there is nothing wrong with the design itself before it is sent out to print. During this process, I have become familiar with Photoshop, Illustrator and In-Design–programs and skills I previously had no use or desire for. This job that I thought was merely a stepping stone in my life has recently taken on new life and God is showing me that He can use what I thought was dormant and small in its purposes for The Kingdom into a life-giving reservoir.

In early July my good friend David approached me with an idea of creating sponsorship cards for the orphans he would be reaching in Myanmar (Burma), which would help to filter much-needed resources to the kids at the orphanage. Recognizing the opportunity and my desire to help, I offered my limited skills and resources to create the cards. The feat was large and my knowledge and capabilities small but I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that God was behind it.

What followed were weeks of trial and error and some stagnant, disheartening hours on lunch breaks and after work. My boss graciously offered to help me with the nuances of the task and we worked together, which was a blessing in its own right. Eventually, we reached a deadline scenario where we had to put in some “crunch time” hours to get the cards done or else we were in jeopardy of falling short. God orchestrated the events that followed to streamlined perfection…

The situation: 4 days to finish the cards, input information for 100+ kids, get them printed, cut and ready to hand out for a conference later that week. We had no venue to meet at and the task appeared daunting… and then it hit me. We could do it at Affliction and get the job done quicker and more efficiently since all the files were on my computer there. We met the next morning and got to work. It wasn’t long after we started that we realized that transferring files to each other would be a major issue. The Wi-Fi was acting up and it threatened to put a damper on the whole thing.

Then I remembered, earlier that morning my mom happened to give me a flash drive (one that I didn’t even know existed!) specifically so I can transfer files from work to my home computer, just for this occasion! That ridiculous Darth Vader flash drive ended up being THE key component to accomplishing our task. God knew exactly what we needed when we needed it and practically hand-delivered it to us! It was an amazing revelation.

I never thought I would say that Darth Vader was my saving grace!

To make a long story short(er), we accomplished what we… what God set out to do from the start. God called us to be His vessels to see this task to completion and we were obedient enough to respond with, “I am willing.” God, however does not give the details or the “how-to’s,” He just gives us a snapshot of the end result and tells us to “go.” This is why I love following God. Without mystery there would be no romance, there would be no need for faith. Faith is an adventure. I have seen firsthand what “the day of small things” can bring to this world. Children’s lives will be affected because of that Darth Vader flash drive, the hours spent behind the scenes working on the kinks of Illustrator and Photoshop, late nights, early mornings and this low-level position at Affliction Clothing. If God could use these hands to create something meaningful and put a smile on one of those beautiful faces in Myanmar, then I have truly done my duty.

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” 
Philippians 3:14 (NIV)

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Silk

The presence of the Holy Spirit when you are alone.

 

Silk

He is everywhere. He is my being. I breathe Him and taste Him. He

drapes against my skin like gauzy silk that falls through me. He touches,

and He whispers in my ear. His thoughts are a brume in my mind, innate

but ever expandingly potent.

Tangible, existent love that is everything.

 

The Flood

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For most of my life I have been comfortable with being comfortable. I am very much a man of routine; I am at ease when I have even a vague outline of where I am going or what the day will look like. As humans we all have our niches, habitats, tendencies, methods and specificities that help to create and establish levels of comfort and measures of manageable tranquility in our lives. Whether you recognize, acknowledge or feed it, this hunger for control and comfort is ingrained in all of us. Ultimately, our control of comfort can become a corruption that can destroy every fiber of our world.

God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them…”
Genesis 6:12-13 (NIV) 

After reflecting on these Scriptures in Genesis, I realized something simple yet profound: We will all experience the flood. 

At one point or another in life we will go through one if not many great floods and storms that will destroy all that was once established, teeming and comfortable in our lives and wash it away without any ascertainable reason. In these situations do you find yourself building an ark and preparing life for the future or rather, settling in the land of sheltered yesterdays? In these fragile moments, faithful obedience surpasses circumstantial evidence.

I have seen that if you remain tied to a dock of comfort, God will inevitably send a storm to sever those ties and send you out to sea. For some of us it happens suddenly, for others it is more of a process. As creatures of comfort, we often find it difficult to depart from our dock because it represents the measurable outcomes and controllable circumstances that we so desire in our lives.

Then there is that confronting, obstructive Scripture in Matthew 16:25 (NIV) “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” 

Does God really want us to lose our life, our comfort and our ease? Yes, because what He has is more, is greater, is better than anything we can perceive. God wants to redefine what it means to be comforted until all we need is Him. Jesus asks us to put everything afloat upon God, and go out to sea on the great swelling tide of His purpose. It is out at sea where eyes are truly opened, faith is fully formed and character is eternally shaped. If our faith, security and hope are on board with Jesus we are not to spend all our time in calm waters just inside the harbor, full of joy but always tied to the dock. We must echo the obedience of Noah and build an ark to weather our own storms and embark upon the sea of God’s promises.

In verses 6:22 and 7:5 of Genesis (NIV) it reiterates the same vital point and difference between Noah and a lot of us, “And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.”
Noah did all. It is a dangerous, sometimes fatal mistake to refuse direction, to refuse to follow and fully obey on this voyage. The counterfeit of obedience is a state of mind where you create your own opportunities to sacrifice yourself, and your zeal and enthusiasm are mistaken for discernment.

“But Samuel replied:
‘Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams.'”
1 Samuel 15:22 (NIV)

It is easier to sacrifice yourself than to fulfill your spiritual destiny. Fulfilling your destiny means doing the hard work. It means getting up every morning to gather the wood to build that ark, and preparing to live for the future rather than the past. Beware of paying attention or going back to where you once were on the shore of yesterday’s comforts when God wants to take you somewhere that you have never been before.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” 
Romans 12:2 (NIV)