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)

The Next Step

After reading and carefully reflecting on the Book of James, I find myself circling around the same question: “Will I take the next step?”

I think a common and widely held misconception of Christians is that people think once we put our faith in Jesus Christ all our problems are suddenly solved, we are immediately better people, and are signed, sealed and delivered. In reality, one moment of faith is just the beginning of a process. That measure of faith we exhibit when we declare, “Jesus is my Lord and Savior,” seems so significant at the time and it is in its own right, but it is merely the first step on a path to true and lasting change.

In Luke 9:61 (NIV) it reads, “Lord, I will follow you, but…” 
…And there it is. That word that always gets in our way. It hinders, binds and prevents us from taking the call that is beckoning us forward–“but.”

Even if you are not a Christian, I think everyone can agree that actions (in most cases) speak louder than words. Regardless of our status, duration, or devotion as followers of Christ, if we always hold onto our “but’s” (pardon the pun) we will never experience the wondrous abandonment of truly following Christ.

This simple truth applies to so much in life; it is a glaring reality staring us in the face regardless of our beliefs or religion. It is the truth that even the brightest ideas, the most noble motives, the most significant moments of our faith, without action mean nothing… There are examples of this all around us as well as nowhere at all. It reminds us that if a person is ever going to do anything worthwhile, there will be times when he or she has to risk everything and leap headfirst into the dark. This “darkness” is a sea of unknown outcomes, sacrifices, and sometimes painful losses. We are so scared of experiencing these possibilities that we can’t see through the fog of present day trials; we fail to grasp that we may enter into a land of opportunity, reward and blessing on the other side. You may find that soon, the “dark” you thought you plunged into will transform into a brighter light than you have ever seen or experienced.

What if Martin Luther King, Jr. never picked up his pen, John Lennon never learned to play guitar or Benjamin Franklin never flew a kite? Our future is often shaped by the smallest sparks, the smallest decisions and the smallest of accomplishments. The decisions you make in the present will determine the choices you have in the future.

“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” 
James 2:26 (NIV) 

How significant is this verse in James to you? The comparison he makes with our body and spirit really stresses and warns us how vital–no–how much of a life or death sentence it is to put action to our faith.

For Christians, Jesus demands this unrestrained, adventurous spirit in placing our trust in Him. In the spiritual realm, Jesus demands that you risk everything you hold on to or believe through common sense, and leap based on faith in Him alone. This is scary for beings that are so consumed, mesmerized and enslaved by the common sense of this world. The notion that we must leap without knowing where we will land according to our own experiences and 5 senses cripples us with fear. Let me tell you, from experiences past and those to come, once you obey you will immediately find that what He says is as solidly consistent as common sense.

On the basis of our senses, what Jesus requires of you might seem mad. Again and again you will come right up to what Jesus wants, but every time you will turn back at the true point of testing, until you are determined to abandon yourself in total surrender. Whenever that time comes, take the leap. What you will find on the other side will fill your spirit with the amazing truth that you acted on the words of God.

Trust in Him, trust in His timing or simply make the determination to trust. Take that step you know you should take but are perhaps too afraid to based on what YOU think might happen. God meets us in those moments of doubt and lifts us up on eagle’s wings and carries us into His invincible future… a future that is brighter than any of us could ever imagine.
Two Boys Diving off Dock into Lake

The Perfect Fix: Fire Set by Faith in every Decision

In todays world of information overload, we collapse at the forefront of making a decision. With so many decisions that are unstructured and unpredictable, the desire for more answers immobilizes our strategy making process.  Thus, in todays environment, we need to be able to find not all the information but the right information. We need to be decisive in the parameters given.  Will we know if it is the right way.  Even if there may be five ‘right ways’ can we accomplish one.  My question today is: Does the perfect fix exist? Because, if we do not have a way to getting things to work, how do we ever intend to stay motivated.

I mean, what is our motivaton if we find ourselves at the tail-end of every challenge comming against more opposition? Why do we continue another day if we see the light at the end of the tunnel never get brighter? How far would you treck in the desert after you have journeyed for years with no refreshment.  How do you stick to your work until the end of the day, if your mind moment-to-moment is bombarded with fear, doubt, and remorse.

Does the perfect fix exist?  

Here is the thing, the perfect fix is not a result but a process.  A methodology of being your best in all that you do.  Doing what you know to do best: trust in God, live for His kingdom, and being readily available for service.  It takes discipline to be your best in your daily activities and being devoted to the opportunities in front of you.  Overall, it is our responsibility.

Process: is where you have dominion and command.  The process is where you come in and shine.  The results are outside your control, the inputs as well. So many people are overburdened because they feel or assume they have failed because of external circumstances.  Because you did not get hired, did not get the promotion, did not get the grade you wanted, did not make it through the relationship, does not mean you failed.  As long as you put your best effort forth, that is what counts.

God called us by His excellence.  You have the right to be diligent, hardworking, eager, and constantly motivated.  Your time of day is precious, do not give in to a person you are not meant to be because people will judge you.  If they want the best for you, they will be proud of you.  With any insight at all, people are all wanting to be themselves but everyone is worried to make the first move.  Live life by the way God set things to be in your life.  Believe in His promises.  As long as you are your best, you do your part, whether you get the job or not, wheter your relationship lasts or not, you know you are living Gods path for your life.  Motivation plus determination make for a promoted Christian lifestyle.  Jesus said to us: those planted in the good earth will have a harvest that will bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold (Matthew 4).  What’s the final call? Launch a policy that your perfect fix is a ready heart for Jesus. Be diligient, full of a spirit-of-excellence, be obedient and you will watch His kingdom be moved in ways you never would of dreamed.

Do the best you can, with the resources you have.  Never let yourself get taken over so easily by trying one way that did not work and forgoing all other options.  We live in a day with so many options to have an impact on the world, let us not forget the world needs more leaders, community builiders, and friends.  People who follow their path and stay in their lane influence others to be diligient in their life.

For the person reading who is being their best everyday, keep your focus.  Align your heart with God’s will for your life all-the-more.  Aim straight and eliminate any distractions.  Enlarge your vision, step into your development with character and know that God is deepening roots for the things to come to life beyond your imagination.  Each time you stay faithful, you are deepening your roots.  When you have stayed faithful for one week or ten years, continue to stay true to your own convictions knowing that God has set your path this way for a reason.  Stay diligient, stay ready in your heart for God, keep Him first, and be eager for todays fulfillment of continued persistent work and effort.

The perfect fix is right in front of you: it is now, today, in this present moment.  Will you give God your best in what He gave you.  Stumbling over if it is the right decision or not is not the concern.  Information overload and inactivity will be a past recipe of your life.  Your new ingredients to success lie in what Peter spoke about in 2 Peter concerning the fire set by faith.  In believing everything we see around us is meaningful, ignite your walk knowing that God is not surprised with your current situation and the state of affairs around you.  Keep your feet planted knowing Jesus Christ was already the perfect fix to your future decisions as well as your past.  Each day is a day to stretch, each hour is an hour of opportunity, the perfect fix is not a formula but a connection between what we are suppose to do and what we do. Stay diligent.

2 Peter 1:5-11 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus ChristFor he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

Keep Reaching


reachin
In February of 2013 I was inspired to write letters for my community, describing in a few words my experience and relationship with God. My intention was, and is simple–to write to people on the basis of which my heart was won: love.

In the Bible one of my favorite collection of verses is 1 Corinthians 4-8 (NIV):

“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails…”

With this in mind, please read this. My prayer is that it will open your heart, mind, and soul to the extraordinary, endless, and scandalous love of our God, who is with you always.

Dear Neighbor,

Hello, my name is Taylor. I never used to be this guy but I want to tell you, you are loved. You are loved by our creator, our father, our savior.

I know a lot of you may disagree and it’s ok if you do but please, consider this: He’s waiting with open arms… waiting for you to come home. It’s easy to say He’s not real, to blame Him for everything wrong in this world; I know this because I did it. I think that being fearful about something you don’t fully understand is a natural tendency, it’s human nature. Hiding behind drugs, alcohol, sex, wealth, fame, pride, anger, deception–it’s all so empty. They won’t lead to answers; they won’t heal your hurting. Again, I know this through experience, through crashing and burning time and time again. Living a life without a purpose is a rudderless ship, aimless, destructive, and going nowhere. It’s a never-ending egg hunt to fill a void in hopes that it will lead us to a measure of peace and fulfillment that seems just out of reach.

I didn’t write this to start an argument, I wrote this to urge you to keep reaching, keep moving, keep hope alive. I wrote this to ultimately remind you that you are loved.

Please, have a blessed day, remind your family and friends that you love them, pour words of encouragement, integrity and honor into them. Light up their hearts. Remember that this life is a vapor, here for one moment and gone the next… so live the life you always dreamed of. It’s never too late to remove the stone and live again. Please know that I will be praying for you, I love you and most of all, God loves you.

God Bless,
Taylor

Called to His Path

As a follower of Christ our walk is a bit different than the average.

We must push against the grain.  We have to make decisions that are tougher.  In that, sometimes we lose heart in our day-to-day hustle.  We lose sight of the bigger picture that God does not ever intend for us to fail.  On-and-off, it is easier to do what everyone else does.

Middle_of_the_Road

On any street in life we find center lines that divide the road.  God designed us to walk – if you imagine with me – as if we shrunk down to the size of an ant and walked right on that center line.  The center line represents the narrow path, the road less traveled.  The interesting part is that the line does not continue forever but breaks off again and again.

As we walk we could lose sight and not understand the next chapter of our path. A curve in the road could seem like there is no direction in front of us; but, what if we knew our blessing, our healing, our answer, or our refreshed hope was sitting just around the corner.  What if the road was turning to shift us into an unbelievable wave of God’s love.

We are all called to His path: the narrow path.  Keep moving forward.  Stay in anticipation for God to work something great in your life.  As the church we are the bride of Christ.  That means, we walk down the aisle with Him and He walks through life with us.  He never left and He is ready to overfill your containers as you press on to voyage with Him.  Develop a patience that is unshakeable in hard times.  God is not partial or unreasonable.   Through tough times it is our chance to build faith with a relentless hope.  By trusting that God is still in control, we display our faith in action.  So, be ready on que because God can do anything at anytime. He is just around the corner!

“For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:14 NASB

Double life

This is my first post!  🙂

1 John 1:6 “If we say we have fellowship with him, and walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”

Why should I live a double life? Why do people go to church only to return home without applying what they’ve learned? They must not understand the word.

I can not live a double life, speaking the word of God when in fellowship, only to  leave to the work place and stumble just to fit in. I must keep in fellowship with my brothers and practice what I have received from our talks in scripture and not be lead by temptation, and darkness.

Pain, growth, and family life transformed

This post goes over two things in particular- what happens when a person who believes in God is not fed scripture, and the incredible things that can happen to a person when applying the word of God.

My first few weeks as a Christian were incredible. I imagined myself as a tiny little sprout and realized that this period in my spiritual life was a delicate one. So I sought to keep the majority of sins out of my life, keeping disciplined in areas I’ve previously never been able to exercise control over.  This newly gained control in my life allowed my to get into the word the majority of mornings and at night to write out a devotional on paper without feeling any sort of shame for breaking promises I’ve made to God. Things were going extremely well until I took an innocent trip to mammoth with my brother, friends and their family who are basically a second family of mine.

seed_sprout

It was a family trip; it’s not like I drank at all or did anything wrong, all that was really needed was for me to be separated from the word for a few days. Before I recommitted my life, I’ve always known that if I ever wanted to get close to God, there it was; all I had to do was open to the gospel (Matthew to John) in particular, and I would be renewed in my faith. The bible would always be a place where I could fill my spiritual cup; but, parting from it for a while is really all all it took, especially at this more delicate time in my spiritual growth.

the-riches-of-the-Bible

The devil doesn’t need temptation or anything else; all he needs is time, and distractions. I was distracted for about five days up in mammoth and got back home where a lot of things had sort of hit the fan.

My dad had gone to Mexico to visit his father who was in horrible pain suffering from gangrene on both his feet. He was in his nineties and was not in a position to heal properly even if the amputation did take place. Many years had passed since my dad had last seen his own. My grandfather died a few days after my own father arrived in Mexico. Needless to say, my dad spent a few weeks in Mexico spending time with family he hadn’t seen in a long time, including my grandmother.

In the meanwhile, this was during a time when I had barely started working for my parents again. And with my father gone, there was a lot to be done. Things got crazy, absolutely crazy, and at the time, I hadn’t yet grown to the person I am today, spiritually.

My mom is an Ox. Literally she is the strongest woman I have ever met. She has been awarded woman of the year in entrepreneurship and technology by La Opinion, something like the Spanish LA Times. She has worked 7 days a week for about 25 years, spent about ten years without taking a vacation, and even worked on the same day as one of her pregnancies, having five kids in total.  Granted, I just read a letter from Columbia to that very child just yesterday. She is tough, but having worked her way into self-employment from working as a seamstress, her management style is probably tougher, and children of hers don’t get any slack at work.  In fact, my mom has very little patience for people not doing things properly and quickly. She’s also a very loving mother at the core, but that’s not the point right now. It was a tough first few weeks, to say the least.

In fact, I worked about 70 hours those first few weeks, and there were a few issues in particular that just made me incredibly disillusioned regardless of how much I wanted to help out my mom and and family. It just seemed impossible to work for my mom.

During that time, I was busy, things were crazy, and I was separated from the word. I had no spiritual nourishment, and little of the protection that it affords. I began to stumble in my walk again with certain things.  And there was one day in particular when, I just really need a drink. Worse yet, all of a sudden I began to have the worst tooth pain I’ve ever had. It was crazy.  I’ve had my wisdom teeth taken out, a root canal about a year ago, two broken noses, a dislocated clavicle and this was by far the worst. It turned out that the root canal I had about a year back was infected. I was on Vicodin and 800mg of ibuprofen, and still, the pain was unbearable. To make matters worse, I put a cup of water in the freezer and put it on my counter top before I went to bed so that I can numb my mouth in the middle of the night. One tiny grind of another tooth to the affected one would create a jarring pain that lasted for about an hour only to die down to a level of seven out of ten at best. I woke up to find that during the middle of the night, the condensation from the frozen cup of water created a pool that ruined my iPhone that sat about six inches away. This was not my best week. I went into an emergency surgery the next day to have my tooth pulled. Things became better as soon as I woke up from the laughing gas, but this was no humorous situation.

I finally made time to get back into the men’s bible study I attended and met with the guys. That night I got back into the word and learned so many things.

We need scripture. 1 Peter 2:2 “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that your have tasted that the Lord is good.” I learned that in being separated by the word of God, I was weakened spiritually. Sure, all those things could have happened to me even if I was in the word everyday, but I would have been better equipped to handle the same circumstances.

For instance, when I returned to scripture, I came a across a verse where Jesus said in Matthew 9:13 “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.‘ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” I decided that I was going to practice applying that scripture that week. And it came in handy that very day.

I made a few errors in contracting within those last few days, that were somewhat unavoidable, and I did my best to mitigate the damage while the customers where there, nonetheless. I was getting it good from both my parents who were chastising me for my mistake. I could have defended myself saying that there was another person who started the application in the computer system on a different date and there was no way of me knowing that the date needed to be changed, but I sat back, and gave that situation to God. 1 Peter 5:6,7 “Humble yourselves, therefor, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I ended up telling my mom, yeah, you’re right mom. Something I’ve never been able to do when being reprimanded in a way that I felt didn’t matched the level of my mistake, and in an unexpected move, my mom came over and hugged me and said that it was okay. The same occurrence has come to happen with my Dad in the last few weeks; although admittedly, it did take longer with my dad. Nonetheless, I realized something in that situation. I was able to do that because of my understanding of my salvation through God’s grace.

I may stumble according to God’s law, but through Jesus Christ I am saved and have God’s favor. He will always love me. I realize that even more now that I am stronger in the spirit, and as I have become better and better having more strength not to lust after women, at the gym for instance. I’ve never had so much strength. I stumbled in a different way for the first time in a long while just two days ago and came to a profound realization of God’s grace as I am truly his child. I felt like God instantly forgave me as I am now walking in the spirit and have sincerely accepted Jesus as my savior and choose to walk and love as he did.

In the same way, there was no reason for me to argue with my parents. I made a mistake; I didn’t need to defend myself because they’re my parents and even though I made a mistake they’re still going to love me and are going to forgive me. I didn’t have to get defensive as I once did; I just needed to realize that I need to give my situations up to God.

Jesus himself said to the Sahhedrin when asked if he was the Son of God, Matthew 26:64 “Yes, it is as you say.” He didn’t bumble around saying, well, sort of, or justify, and defend himself.  All he said was, it is as you say, trusting in our Father’s greater plan. I need to continue to practice giving things up to God, and, when people accuse my of anything, to say, it is as you say.” And allow God to demonstrate how much better things are in his hands.