Sunday, March 21, 2010

Oh Snap!

After several weeks of struggling with smoking, issues with friends, issues with family, and my own disquiet in the mind I have broken free of a heavy burden. Lately, I've been feeling a lot of guilt and shame over the fact that I did not get into the military and did not get to follow through with the plans I had made for my life. I had reoccurring anger about how things had ended with my ex-girlfriend who bore the Internet nickname of Sparrow. I saw myself as a failure for not doing everything I could to follow through with those plans I had made. I thought that where I was now was the direct result of quitting on myself. Tonight, I discovered that that was far from the truth.

After having a very honest and God-seeking conversation with a friend of mine, a veil was lifted off my eyes and I could see that I wasn't a failure; I was right where God wanted me to be. I realized that the only one who was placing the guilt and shame on me was me, that God did not condemn me for not getting into the military or following through with my plans to marry Sparrow. The truth was that I was not supposed to get into the military and my reasons for breaking up with Sparrow were very legitimate. I finally feel as though I've let her go. She is not my future wife and I cannot be dwelling on the might-have-been scenarios that keep running through my mind. I hurt Sparrow the way I broke up with her, but God reminded me that I did everything I could to make amends for the hurt I caused her.

The best part of this is that God has showed me a plan for the next two years of my life. I'm not going to go into details until I received confirmation about the plan, but I can tell you that it is very exciting. Seeing this plan has also rejuvenated my sense of purpose, restored my faith in the facts promised in Jeremiah 29:11. There's so much I could say about what happened tonight, but a lot of it is actually kept in confidence until there is agreement between all parties involved that I can freely speak on the subjects. Frankly, I just thank God that He came through for me when I was ready to throw in the towel. I didn't think I could hold on much longer to the little shreds of hope I had, but just when the light seemed to fade God; radiantly shining brighter than day, showed up and showed off His awesome power to renew and restore.

Praise Him, Saints. He is mighty to save.

Until next time,
De Facto

P.S. - The events vaguely mentioned in this entry directly inspired my latest piece of poetry. If you haven't read it yet, check it out: Te Amo Semper V: Semper Fidelis Est

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Now This Is Really Jacked Up

Yesterday was pretty much the worst day of the week for me. Despite it being the day where every every Irishman like myself pays tribute to St. Patrick for bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to us after having been enslaved in Ireland for years as a child. Oh, wait- you thought there were snakes in Ireland? Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but there has never been any scientific evidence that would suggest there were snakes in Ireland. Myth busted. Anyways, so yesterday was a bad day, and you all might be wondering why...

Well, after some prayer and contemplation I came to terms with the fact that I do not will power to quit on my own. I decided then that I was going to give my dad my cigarettes. He puts one cigarette out on the table for me before he leaves for work, and then when he gets home he sets out another one for me. Knowing his son, and knowing how addiction works; the guy got smart and takes my cigarettes with him everywhere he goes so that I can't find them and take them back. How does this help me quit smoking? Firstly, it means I only smoke two cigarettes a day. That's pretty difficult because on a bad day, I'd probably smoke six to eight cigarettes, and about four cigarettes on a good day. Secondly, it takes control of my smoking out of my hands. I can't just grab a cigarette whenever I want. Believe me, sometimes I'd smoke a cigarette because I don't have much else to do. Those two things are intricately woven together and are what is helping me quit.

But what does all this have to do with yesterday? I'll tell you, as soon as I go and have a smoke. No, not really. Ok, not funny, I get it. Anyways, yesterday I woke up pretty late, about 10:00 and I went upstairs. I looked on the table and saw that my cigarette was all crinkled and deformed with something all over it. Upon closer inspection I saw that someone had drawn a skull and crossbones on my cigarette. The message was clear enough, but I was now down a cigarette since I wasn't going to smoke something that had been graffiti'd with marker. Who knows just how many more chemicals that would add to the list of deadly toxins that are already in cigarettes? I then struggled through the day, rifling through my dads stuff in hopes of finding my pack I gave him. I got so desperate that I actually walked around for an hour and a half looking for dropped money in common places where people drop things: parking lots, sidewalks, outside stores, and trails. I didn't find any money and my body was tired of walking around, so I was left with a mind full of rage. I did get to smoke another cigarette later on just before I went to bed, to replace the one I didn't get smoke that morning.

Today has been much easier, even though I still only had one cigarette this morning and I'll get one tonight; I feel more accustomed to smoking less. I pushed myself to wait until noon, although I only managed to make until 11:00. I have to laugh at my own foolish thinking though. I was sitting here thinking about quitting smoking, all the implications thereof and I actually got scared. What am I going to do with that extra five or ten minutes that I used to take just to smoke a cigarette? Will the friends I made from standing out in the freezing cold smoking still be my friends after I quit? Will it even be beneficial to have friends who smoke? It's stupid that I had these thoughts and more, because I actually had to remind myself that quitting was a good thing. It's as if I had actually forgotten for a moment that quitting was what was best for me, and I had to remind myself what God had told me about my smoking. I wasn't even having a Nic-fit, which is for those of you unacquainted with the term; the agitation experience a person has when they're craving Nicotine.

Anyways, I'm done here for now. Not a really impressive or thought-provoking entry, I know, but I just felt like putting it down.

Until next time,
De Facto

Friday, March 12, 2010

Standing Tall or Living Small?

It's important for every follower of Christ to understand that there is spiritual war for the soul of every man occurring on a day to day basis. (Ephesians 6:12, 1 Peter 5:8, James 4:7) I thought that since everybody has their take on it, but not everyone gets to the most important point that it was essential for me to clearly lay it out for everyone. Too often we think because we are taught that we have to struggle, wrestle with, and battle demonic forces that come against us. This is so far from the truth, it should be heresy to preach such a false message. The fact of the matter is that we already have victory in the name of Jesus. (1 John 5:3, 1 Corinthians 15:57)

Tonight at Bible study I heard the truth presented to me in a no-nonsense way that I feel must be shared with you all. Throughout this entry, I'll be referencing Luke 8. It's important to know also that Luke 8 has significance in connection to Isaiah 6. You may want to read up on Isaiah 6, get a firm understanding of it, and then read through Luke 8 before you meditate on what you're about to read. Yes, I sincerely hope that after reading this you will go back through it and meditate on what is written here. It is also my hope that you will see these Scripture references and that you will verify their contextual validity for yourself. Don't just read this and think, "Oh, he put cited verses, therefore it must be legit."

In Luke 8:22, Jesus is asleep on the boat (presumably in the bottom of the boat) and a storm is raging outside. His disciples fear that the boat will be swamped if the storm continues, thus they wake Jesus. He commands the winds to cease, and suddenly everything is calm. Pretty familiar right? They come to shore and Jesus gets off to see a demon possessed man. The Bible says that this demon possessed man would strip naked and run away to hang out in the tombs. Apparently, the people of the town nearby tried to chain him up so that he wouldn't run away, but he just broke the chains and ran off again. Jesus asked the demon for its name, which it told Jesus was Legion. The demons in the man begged Jesus to be cast not into the Abyss, but rather into the herd of swine. When He did cast them into the swine, the swine ran off the edge of small cliff into the water and drown. When the people of the town heard about it they found the demon possessed man was dressed and sitting at the feet of Jesus calm without any indication of possession. It gets better because Jesus left that town by boat and returned to the city. Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue came and asked Jesus to heal his daughter. On the way there, a woman touched Jesus believing if she could just brush the hem of his garments she would be healed. Jesus noticed and inquired about it, eventually finding the woman who had touched her. He bid her farewell telling her that her faith had made her well. Just as this happened a servant from Jairus' house came and said that the daughter was dead. Jesus didn't seem to care and went into his house anyway. He commanded the daughter to rise and she lived.

That's four miracles presumably within a very short span of time. Now back yourselves up to the first part of Luke 8. Jesus tells them the parable of the sower and how three different soils ended up. He then explains the parable to His disciples in private because it was not meant to be understood by the general public. This is where your careful examination of Isaiah 6 would come in handy, as it would answer the question as to why it was not meant to be understood by the masses. The most important part of this, and the part that cuts through all the clutter regarding spiritual warfare is in verse 15 when Jesus tells us that good soil is analogous for those who hear the word, retain it, and persevere (other versions say "do it") in it. Are you putting it all together? If not, let me point you to a verse in Matthew 28:17.

I heard a story of an man who took some guys on a camping trip. His buddy went to have a look at their campsite and came back from looking around in a dead-man sprint. The man who was leading the trip took a look at the running man and said, "Bear..." in the most nonchalant way possible as he grabbed his camera and a large stick. He held the stick up as high as he could and with his other hand took pictures of the bear. The bear stood as tall as it could but saw that he was not as tall as the man who was holding the stick and turned around and walked away. Although this story may seem truly unbelievable, it's common knowledge among outdoors enthusiasts that bears measure the height of their opposite and will back down to others who are taller than themselves.

Likewise, Jesus has given us a similar stick to hold up against the enemy when he tries to attack us: the cross. Through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have victory over even death, and by His stripes we are healed. We don't measure up against the powers of darkness that roam this earth, but when we take the cross and hold it high above our heads, we suddenly have an added length that cannot be topped. All we have to do is command demons to flee in Jesus name, and they must obey. We can also bind them, which is like a spiritual mute button on the remote for spiritual warfare, and that way we can handle any situation where there is an attack of the enemy. Knowing that we can choose to stand tall with the cross or live small and susceptible to every attack of the enemy that comes our way.

Until next time,
De Facto

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My 60mph Death Machine

I've been a licensed driver for a little more than a year, but add in the years I've been driving with my permit and I've been driving for approximately four years. In those four years I have never been in accident, my fault or otherwise, except while I was in another person's vehicle and I was not driving. Although I have flashbacks on those accidents, neither of the two resulted in any injuries, that is not what prompted me to write this blog entry. It is solely me coming to realization that we are lunatics to think that we can control our lives while we put ourselves in metal boxes and hurl ourselves forward at speeds of 60 miles per hour (mph) or faster as a means of transportation.

Does anyone know what powered steering is? Electrically assisted artificial wheel/axis manipulation. Without powered steering, a vehicle is virtually impossible to control. Yes, you can still drive, but it's extremely difficult and at that point your ability to control the vehicle is limited to how strong you are versus the vehicle momentum at any given time. If your brakes fail while driving at any speed above 15 mph, you cannot stop without hitting something. That's right folks, you have to hit a car, tree, snow bank, or some other object that will slow down the vehicle enough to make it stop. We know this, in our subconscious, but our need for being able to get from place to place seems to allow us to throw aside our basic survival instincts.

The most psychotic part of this is that we put ourselves on the road with hundreds of other vehicles, entrusting our own safety in the hands of other people who may not have the same common sense that we do. Of course, this is assuming we have common sense. A lot of drivers aren't content to follow the rules of the road, particularly speed limits, and so we drive faster than what the law says we can drive. I myself am extremely impatient in getting to and from places even if I'm not running late and usually drive at least five miles over the speed limit. What scares me to death is the fact that I am not the fastest vehicle on the road. In fact, even going just five miles over, I find myself having to stay in the right lane of traffic to let the faster vehicles pass me by... That means that there are numerous vehicles propelled by explosive materials at 80 mph or faster just so they can get from one place to another a few minutes faster.

This reminds me, does anyone ever take a second to think about the fact that our vehicles are propelled by controlled explosions? Yeah, they're controlled, but they're explosions nonetheless! I know I'm starting to sound like a paranoid dweeb; the kind that locks himself away in the closet, too scared of every little thing to go out and enjoy life. I can guarantee that I'm not paranoid, just examining the our suicidal tendencies. Oh, and get this, when we lose control of our vehicle and hit another car or person, it's called an accident. An accident. What is a more appropriate term if accident is unacceptable, you ask? How about calculated and accepted rate of fatalities due to predicted likelihood that driving a vehicle will result in lethal casualties.

People, wake up! The government calculates and can know with reasonable certainty how many people will die every year due to car related incidents (this is excluding incidents where a driver was intoxicated in some way.) Governments around the world knows these statistics and have decided that the loss of life from these tragic mishaps is an ACCEPTABLE LOSS. That's right, if you get into a car accident and die, the government considers your death tragic, but acceptable and will not do anything to stop more people death. It isn't until there is a dramatic increase of deaths, to the point that the media starts reporting it, that the government will even flinch at the body count.

Just more proof that Government doesn't care about you. You are an insignificant numerical phenomena of no consequence. Your individuality has no meaning. You are meaningless to the Government. Yet, you pay the tab that the Government runs up. You elect the fat cats that run the Government. You pick up guns and kill other people to defend the Government. You even sing songs of your unwavering loyalty to the Government. Oh sure, you can say that your patriotism is towards democracy, to the Republic, but even now there is probably someone reading this who has labeled me a dissenter and an anarchist. I don't care what they label me, but the fact that I'm being labeled such for being critical of my government is proof that loyalty to the nation must exclusively be to the government, or else...

I am a servant to the ideals that my country was founded: freedom. Life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. As it stands, a republic, or a representative democracy governed by a constitution is the most stable way of maintaining those ideals. Unfortunately, we've allowed ourselves to sacrifice our personal freedoms to ensure our security. The truth is, we're no more secure than we were before, in fact because we have surrendered our freedoms we now have internal threats that are just as dangerous as the ones from the outside. The government should fear its people, not the other way around.

The government doesn't give a rats-ass about you, and if you think otherwise, then I'd say you are ignorant to your own insignificance in the eyes of the government. They don't care that every time you put yourself into a car you are literally putting your neck in a noose and playing chicken with the release lever.

Until next time,
De Facto

Friday, March 5, 2010

Now You're Just Testing Me, Not Fair!

Most people think of God as that one guy up in the clouds, but one of my best friends and I prefer to think of him as a best friend who's always around. You see, God doesn't want you to refer to Him as the "guy up in the sky" if He's right there beside you. And since he's with you all the time, everywhere you go, He's more like a best friend who hangs out with you whenever and wherever. Now that you understand this informal, but nonetheless close relationship, hopefully you'll understand what I'm about to say.

Sometimes your friends like to play match-maker, you know? Sometimes you go along with it because you think it would be easier than dealing their harrassment for rejecting their "help." But what happens when you tell God, the ultimate best friend, that you're not looking right now? What happens when you tell Him that you need friends that are female, not girlfriends? Yeah, He does the typical friend thing and says, "Oh really?" In defiance, I of course said, "Yeah, really..." That's how it always begins... The only problem is that when you play this game with God, who isn't just the ultimate best friend but also master of the universe, you quickly have the cards stacked against you in the friendly competition.

Yesterday, in Acting I there were four of us who were schedule to perform our monologues. I performed mine first, and of course, was well received by everyone. After that, I sat down and was about ready to pretty much tune out. I wasn't tuning out because I meant any disrespect to my classmates, but I had to internalize whatever energy and strength I had left. I was really craving a cigarette and so I had to focus on something else or go mad. And then it happened, my best friend God played the ultimate "Oh Really?" challenge on me. The last person to give their monologue was flawless in their delivery. I wanted to cry because the subject of the monologue was a girl who wanted to kill herself and lot of the things she was saying brought back memories of people I know who have wanted to or tried to kill themself. Then something happened that I wasn't expecting, the character decided that if she hadn't been able to kill herself after three attempts, that God must have a reason for her being on this earth and that she wasn't going to take her own life.

My jaw dropped. I mean, after I heard her listening to Kutless, I wondered where she stood concerning Christ. So I asked her about this conference that she mentioned while receiving criticism, and that's when I discovered just how closely aligned our spiritual beliefs are. Oh snap! So God asked me last night, actually it was late afternoon, "Are you going to be her friend? Or are you going to throw it away and try to date her?" When you tell your best friend who also happens to be God, that you are swearing-off dating until you can straighten out your life, you'd better mean it. He put someone in my path who could use a friend, but He's also told me I'd be making a huge mistake if I randomly decided to try to date her.

I guess this is where God says to me, "Now put your money where your mouth is." So now I understand the power of my words. I threw it out there that I wasn't ready to date, which is unbelievably true, and now God is challenging me to live up to that and make friends with this young lady; not try to pursue her. It's sad how I've practically forgotten how to just be friends with girls, and the ones I was friends with I was able to do so because I saw them as my sisters. So yeah, my best friend God just gave me a serious accountability check and wager at the risk of losing a friend.

Until next time,
De Facto

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cutting Past the Pretenses

Today I am left without lofty thoughts and philosophical terms. I am spent beyond my natural reserve and have no energy to be wordy and lengthy in my explanation. It has come to my attention that a friend of mine has some legitimate concerns about our friendship. Let me give you the skinny on what has been my situation in past few months.

I have a lot of friends, a few of which I call my best friends, but such is life that my best friends would have things they must pursue other than spending time talking with me about things going on in my life. However, one of my best friends has consistently been there for me even when others were busy with things they had to deal with outside of the context of our friendship. Unfortunately, for a period of two weeks, that one best friend that has always been there for me requested that I remain "radio silent." No phone calls, no text messages, and no e-mails. This couldn't have come at a worse time as I have been going through a difficult transition as I made my exit from the theatre company.

So I turned to another friend who, although she is very busy and is available at only the oddest times, was willing to listen to my deepest frustrations and vexes about this transition. It worked too, as she proved to be a great asset in helping alleviate some tensions that were mounting, but in the process I gave her the distinct impression that I was going to ask her out. This I attribute to my overly emotional state in which I say things as how I feel, not necessarily how I mean them, and often when I'm emotional I say things rather quizzically and vague. I'd also attribute this to the gap in understanding between males and females. Ultimately though, I blame myself and a lack of communication for this frustrating misunderstanding.

I am not ready for a relationship: spiritually, emotionally, and physically (I need to quit smoking first.) Relationships never solve problems in your life, but rather they complicate your life with new ones. This is not always a bad thing, but with this in mind I can confidently say, I have enough problems to worry about. Realistically, I don't even need a relationship at this point in my life. There's nothing I stand to gain from one in this stage in my life. That may sound selfish, as if I'm suggesting that a relationship is only about what I can gain from it, but what I mean is that a relationship would have no benefits and only complications with it. Right now, what I need is God; that's the only relationship I need to focus on at the moment.

My flesh wants a relationship, and why wouldn't it? But it wouldn't be a relationship that honors God, and it wouldn't be with someone who knows the Truth. I am in too much physical and emotional pain to continue this, so I will conclude with the following. It is unfortunate that things happened the way they did, and I am finding myself hard-pressed for a solution as to how to remedy the situation, but I know where I stand on the issue.

Until next time,
De Facto