Perspective.

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Life is all about perspective. It is common for us to view situations based solely on the facts given to us at a particular point in time. I believe we have this tendency due to our limited capacity for faith and belief. This method of thinking is what eventually would lead to the crucifixion of Jesus. The Jewish people looked at Jesus and just saw a carpenter who was claiming to be something he was not. They could not see beyond the physical.  The truth is that Jesus is the King of the Jews, he is their savior they have been waiting for but because Jesus did not fit their expectations, they rejected him. We know from the rest of the story, that Jesus rises from the grave in 3 days and reveals himself to the disciples, shattering their expectations.

Whenever I read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, I can’t help but wonder if I was in the shoes of the Jewish people, would I also reject Jesus, or would I know that Jesus was the true Messiah? Let’s be honest here, we all could’ve easily made the same mistake. I know in my life, I can often base my decisions on the facts I see in front of me, rather than spiritual truths that are hidden from plain view.

Last year was a very difficult season. I proposed to my now wife, and we had to plan for the wedding. We barely had any money saved up. I spent almost triple the amount of money that was in my account on her engagement ring and I bought it on a credit card. All of this seems crazy but I prayed about it and was convinced this was the right decision. Between the time of the engagement and our wedding, I moved from my comfortable, rent-free living situation in Connecticut, to a new apartment in Massachusetts leaving my friends, family, and Church behind. I also, got a new job, with a lot more responsibility. Not to mention planning the wedding with my wife who had very different opinions than me when it came to money. All of this lead to what seemed like never-ending arguments between the two of us, a lot of difficult discussions, and decisions. To be honest with you, laying all these facts out, the decision to get married at the time we did was an illogical one. But it was still the right one. If we decided to get married based on facts alone, we honestly would’ve waited.

Yet somehow someway, through all our sacrifices, and the sacrifices of family members, we were able to afford a beautiful wedding ceremony with no debt, and I was able to payoff my wife’s ring in less than year! And let me tell you marriage is the most amazing thing that ever happened to me! I married my best friend, and everyday I spend with her is special. And to think that I could’ve passed on all of this just because on the surface it seemed impractical! God really shattered my expectations!

All this to say, I don’t know who needs to hear this but you may find yourself in a very difficult season. It may be a season of sorrow, or a season of loneliness, but the story does not end there. Philippians 1:6 says “Be confident of this, he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” The holy spirit is at work within you and God is working a miracle in your life far beyond your imagination. It doesn’t matter how many mistakes you made, your story will be a beautiful one. God will shatter your expectations for you life. You just have to believe.

Mark 16: 4-7 “But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”


Systemic Racism

Many people don’t know how to respond to the killing of George Floyd and are amazed that such overt racism still exits in our nation.

The police brutality that happens to black people in the US is an extension of a larger systemic issue that has plagued our world throughout human history. We form ingroups and outgroups based on the similarities and differences we share with people.

If you belong to one ingroup and don’t really have any friends outside of your ingroup, that has a profound influence on your worldview, and how you perceive individuals that are different than you. Because of systemic racism, most of the people in power in the United States, including cops, all belong to the same ingroup (white anglo-saxon male, not targeting you, just the way it is) and as a result minorities haven’t really been included in the strategy of this nation.

Many people are dumbfounded when they see the unnecessary force officers often use on unarmed black people but let me ask you this question. Let’s say for example you are a white male, and you go to your black friend’s family cookout, how do you feel? Are you uncomfortable, do you do your best to avoid these situations? Do you panic? I bet you the officers that have used excessive force all had these same feelings before they received a badge. Had they resolved all of these biases before becoming an officer of the law, many lives could’ve been saved. So if you’re reading this post and wondering how to respond to the murder of George Floyd, ask yourself if there’s any particular race, or demographic of people you feel uncomfortable around. See if you have any biases. If you do, seek help, whether it be from a friend or a counselor, whatever it takes! Real, authentic growth can only come from an uncomfortable place.

When I was in college, I had friends from multiple racial and ethnic backgrounds. One time, I was having dinner with one of my white friends and had to use the bathroom. I left my backpack and all of my school work on at the table with my friend. When I came back, a lot of my black friends joined me at the table, but my white friend was no where to be found. I just laughed and thought to myself, wow, they were that scared! What my friend experienced on that particular night, is what I experience everyday as a minority in this country.

Young Adult.

Entropy in a sense, is the measure of uncertainty and randomness. I believe this scientific law has direct application to our lives. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more aware of the unpredictable nature of life. Take the coronavirus as an example, which spread rapidly after a citizen of the Hubei province in China ate a wild animal at a seafood market. One action, led to many deaths, loss of jobs, and businesses closing around the world.

Adding to the randomness of the world, life on earth is becoming more integrated. It’s crazy how one action to increase the production of oil by OPEC , for example, can have far-reaching effects on the price of oil around the world which in turn, could affect the futures market, airline industries, stocks, derivative securities, and the global economy. The reality of life is that you can plan it all out, go to the right school, befriend the right person, get the right job, and you can lose it all in an instant.

Two Temptations

As we become more aware of the unpredictable nature of life there is a temptation to give up. A feeling deep within us begins to fester. A feeling that nothing matters. We can make plans but the outcome is something that is impossible to predict. I’ve felt this deeply in my own life on countless occasions. One in particular was the death of my brother Jehu. Jehu was a legend and his story lives on today. He was an extremely talented kid who developed schizophrenia towards the end of his teenage years. We as a family made tremendous amount of sacrifices and prayed for his healing for 7 years. However, on October 28, 2014 Jehu passed away. I remember it like it was yesterday. Nothing can prepare you for losing a loved one. I had a lot of support from friends and family which carried me through that period. But what happens when all the noise stops. When there isn’t as much support or adrenaline. When you are left alone in silence…..

The other temptation we face is to strive. Threatened by the fragility of life, we strive to “control what we can control” and become obsessed with the idea of success. This temptation does not look as bad on paper, but internally we are breaking down. I believe this option is more dangerous than the latter because we can spend the majority of our lives striving for things that ultimately do not matter. We are striving for the temporal instead of the eternal. Status and wealth can only carry you so far and living to satisfy these desires will only build up an appetite that can never be satisfied by your merits.

After Jehu passed, I subconsciously adopted the striving mentality. I’ve devoted a substantial amount of my life to the well-being of my brother and when he was taken from me, I really thought nothing mattered. The natural tendency in these scenarios is to reach out and grasp for the things that are immediately in front of you. At the time, I was a college soccer player so I reached out for soccer and school. I devoted a lot of time to improving my GPA and soccer ability to no avail. As the saying goes, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” I finished the rest of my collegiate career battling injuries and graduated school with no job lined up. All of my hard work seemed futile.

Home

After graduating, I returned home extremely depressed. The things I used to carry me through college were no longer available and I was back at home with nothing to do. It was especially difficult because this was the house I grew up in, where I had countless memories with Jehu. My initial reaction was to keep striving. I applied to tons of jobs and had tons of interviews with no offers. I considered moving away from home and living with friends from school just to get a change of scenery and escape the boredom and isolation. To combat these feelings, I started “Striving for Jesus.” I would wake up every morning read the bible for hours, worship for hours, fast, pray, believing these habits would remove the feelings of depression and loneliness in me. The problem with this mentality is that I was not truly seeking God in all my striving, I was seeking deliverance.

Rather than striving, I should’ve been resting in the grace of the almighty. Matthew 11:28-30 states ” Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Hope In Christ Jesus

We were created for relationship, the first being a relationship with God. I believe many people approach faith seeking deliverance instead of seeking the creator. The paradox here is as we grow deeper in our relationship with Christ, as we turn our attention and focus towards him, our problems begin to grow smaller and smaller. As we surrender our lives to Christ, we become better equipped to deal with the craziness of life. What does this mean on a practical level? This means surrendering every aspect of your life to him and trusting him with your future. It means putting God above your career aspirations and dreams. It means trusting him with your finances. I’ve embraced this radical change in my life and have discovered a peace that transcends all understanding. A lasting peace amidst the chaos and storms life throws our way. A peace that is not dependent on outcome or circumstance, but on the blood of our savior Jesus Christ. A peace that is accessible to all.

Matthew 6:33 states, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”