Stop Checking the Fridge

I slipped fast and hard. I wouldn’t catch myself this time. With the darkness licking the air around me, I fell into the mud. The only light lay a kilometer in the distance. I was so tired. My jeans were slick with dingy brown soil. Night had fallen sooner then I had hoped.

Every muscle inside ached, delirious, my abdomen throbbing, nauseous. I knew I was really sick. The last few hours consisted of dragging my body through this journey. When the rain falls, the dirty paths are as slick as ice. I wouldn’t find out for a few more days that I probably have typhoid.

God, this was beautiful.

All I Ask Meredith Andrews

I didn’t feel that way earlier.

The ramshackle collection of wood and tin was not unlike the Swiss Family Robinson. Huddled together inside, a gaggle of Cambodians stood singing.

Off key and out of tune, they cared not. If trees could clap and mountains sing, they would have nothing on moments like this. Brown skinned beautiful people humbly worshipping God.

Half the world away from home, I had seen temples that make Indiana Jones salivate like the dog he is named after. I had climbed volcanoes and looked down upon a creation that defies every explanation. I had held orphans of every size, variety, and age. I had seen the battlefields of Vietnam. The war-torn soil of Cambodia. Monkeys, elephants, villages, snakes.

Adventure was merely the oxygen around me.

And here I was watching these wonderful people worship Jesus.

Bored.

In the most amazing and epic circumstances, dullness had risen inside of me.

“There is nothing new under the sun.”

God, some days I long for something new.

I stood among the epic worship scene.

Beautiful people doing beautiful things.

I knew that this moment was magical.  And yet I felt nothing.

The Cambodians hit hands together, grinned, and danced. Maybe simplicity has left them unspoiled from the slick oily dreams of American life.

Here I was though, tired, exhausted. Sick, broke, eating Ritz crackers for meals and nursing my own entitlement.

I had lost the wonder.

Jesus, as He always does, whispered into my heart.

“Never let this get old.”

Had I really let life get this old?

We are a generation overloaded with information. There is no great battle to fight for our kings. There is no new land to explore. No dragon to slay.

Where the majority of men grew up in history with a sword on one hip, I grew up with a controller. Pixelated displays have beamed information into my mind since childhood. Facts, data, pictures. The most majestic and powerful creatures on earth have been denoted to discovery channel documentaries and zoo visits. Where as once nature encroached upon us, and we rode out to conquer it, nowadays we merely pay it homage and feed peanuts to the goliaths.

Here I am, 26. It is hard not to believe I know everything. That I have seen everything.

As I get older the wonder has began to fade faster than ever. It seems as if the preservatives of innocence and youth are nullified quicker then they are produced.

The Internet and age of information has gifted me.

I bear Solomon’s burden, without his wisdom.

“Jake, never let this get old.”

My mind flashed back hazy sepia memories. A couple months ago, I stood amidst the sandy dunes of a Florida beach, the stars beaming. I remember my friend Noah saying something astounding,

“It’s impossible to believe we are big, when the universe declares how small we are. Maybe that’s why we build cities. To block the stars.”

At some point I became hardly aware, running on autopilot, stuck in my head, nullifying life with digital information and unmet expectations.

Fighting to be aware is the hardest battle I have ever faced. Everyday feels as if I drift beneath waves trying to break free, as I claw and push desperately to the surface, I take one breath of air.

It’s freeing, beautiful, serene, I see the world as it is.

And then I fall back beneath the waves.

Seeing but never seeing. Hearing but never hearing.

If we refuse to see the world around us as bigger, intimidating, awesome, wonderful, the natural conclusion is always the same.

At some point we disengage.

Food is no longer an experience; it is a combination of chemicals. The synaptic nerves gathering impulses of data that convince us of joy and sweet and yum. Our mind jumps further than the illusion of reaction will take us. We stop believing there to be any value in those experiences. We stop eating for joy. We eat merely to stave off biological cravings.

Games, art, music, sex, drugs, cream of wheat, Oprah. Take anything and add in a dash of sterilized disinterest and it will merely leave us numb and hollow.

Have you ever been there? The desert of the soul, where food has lost its flavor, music is merely noise, and satisfaction a taunting long distant memory. Stay too long and life will be forever unsatisfying. Drifting from one high to the next.

Desert Soul – Rend Collective Experiment

The next day we rode through pouring rain to a distant village. We would interview people on how God has helped them, but it would be a long journey.

As the chintzy metal cart pulled up to the muddy dirt road, it slowly sank in.

We had to move on foot. I didn’t feel very healthy. I didn’t want to journey anymore.

As I walked, frustration bubbled softly underneath my skin. It’s filthy. I’m sick. I don’t want to keep on slipping.

Shouldn’t my environment change me? Shouldn’t everything I am seeing make my heart come alive? Can I really see so much and only find myself sighing, “vanity of vanities!”

“Only I will make your heart come alive Jacob.”

“Ok God, then teach me! Teach me, I am desperate to feel alive again.”

“You think you know it all Jacob, you think that Youtube and discovery channel have shown the wonder of my creation. Stop existing and start being present. Stop dreaming of life and live it. Stop waiting for an incredible journey. You are on one.”

He was right. I mean God usually is, He has that whole infinite being of unimaginable power thing going on.

It was there in the small muddy village, I felt a supernatural joy rise up. The crisp air. The wandering chickens. I deadened my pace. Took a deep breathe.

I had to stop expecting the world to thrill me. It was already thrilling. I had to just slow down and experience it.

Villagers ushered cows and oxen. The sky was immense and stretched out further than I could fathom. A hazy cloud layer lit the world with blue and gray. Rice paddies and junk hobbled together for houses. We rode boats from one shore to the next.

Just closing my eyes and absorbing the hot Cambodian heat. Soaking up the sensual delights of Earth. The explosive flavors and smells and laughs. Getting lost in the experience of now. It was all so wonderful.

I thought of the pain in my muscles. The malaise. Even sickness was thrilling, a mixture of bad feelings that subside leaving an appreciation for days I am healthy. I take so much for granted.

I began to look around. People walking for hours to get home. Buddhist shrines. Hollow eyes. Few of them had electricity, let alone clean water and finished walls. They need Jesus so bad. How could I ever feel cranky and tired when I have the very words of life? Oh Jesus, save these people.

It was true. Only Jesus would make my heart come alive. Everything pointed back to Him. The universe stood before me declaring the master strokes of an artist. My mind frantically swirled around. Everything so beautiful. Everything so Him.

After that, everything was so beautiful. It didn’t matter, the mud or the darkness. It was gorgeous.

….

The next few days I stood during worship. Enamored and in awe. People worshipping the same God in a different language. Life is beautiful. It is filled with glorious expressions and feelings.

Maybe you bought into the lie that adventure will make you come alive. Maybe you bought into the lie that living in America is the reason you are unhappy. Maybe you are waiting for more movies, video games, facebook news. Life has become one perpetual checking of the fridge. Going back and forth, looking for something new.

Stp checking the fridge. Grab something and enjoy it. Life is woonderful!

Look and live.

Newness is all around us. It’s in our friends and family. The people we love. The little things are robbed of value so often. Taste the food you eat today, listen to the music you hear, kiss the people you love. Be thrilled by the ordinary. Because even the most mundane aspects of life are quite extraordinary when you think over them.

Life is new everyday.

Never let it get old.

 Until You Came Along – JJ Heller

 

 

 

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Ashamed To Be American

Just found internet! This blog is from the Philippines, it’s posted a little late!

 I could feel shame underneath the skin. White men.

40-79. Dozens walked the dingy streets, laughing and grinning. MY disgust was tangible.

Nobody comes here for tourism.

We awoke to the humid Manila air and drove on towards the west. Today was the first day I would experience the sex industry up close.

By 9:00 A.M. we had arrived in the little area of Subic.

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We had heard of trafficking in this town and came to start a new ministry. This was the first spying of the land. God saw fit to give a couple of us the chance to be part of that.

Shanty houses and a local cemetery melted away to reveal an astonishing view of Gods creation. Islands, ships, tourists. Behind the buildings lay a tropical paradise.

Inside the bright colored brothels lay deadened souls.

Hungry eyes, men thirsty for control and power.

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We started driving through a small area filled with strip clubs, bars, night clubs.

Several said angels for sale.

There is an emotion stronger than disgust and more tangible than hate that welled up in me.

I wanted justice. I wanted redemption. I wanted them to be rescued.

Yet I was utterly powerless.

Bar Girls, my heart breaks for them, the owner of this place treated them rather nice compared to many others.

Bar Girls, my heart breaks for them, the owner of this place treated them rather nice compared to many others.

We came to Subic with Josie, one of the brightest lights in these dark places. The day before she prepped us for what we would see here.

Josie is an unsung hero. Over the last couple of years she has decided that the rampant abuse cases and broken homes should not be swept under the rug

It’s the most humbly jarring experience, to meet a woman who has decided, skeletons shouldn’t stay in closets.

One afternoon we jammed into a small van and went to the home Josie started. It was beautiful. Scripture was written on walls, little dorm rooms speckled with pastel colors, polka dots, journals, and the things a young girl loves. A couple dozen girls lived at the home, and as they arrived from school I could see one thing. One priceless, unforgettable thing.

They were still little girls.

You see, dirty men with wretched hearts took almost everyone of these girls and robbed them. Innocence lost. Hope deferred. Life broken seemingly forever because of some evil men. My soul churned and wept as I heard the stories of these little ones.

Josie spoke of nights where they hadn’t been able to fully, and legally call this place a shelter. So at least one night a week the girls had to go home. Often they would come back, eyes darkened, souls blackened.

They didn’t go back to love and hope. They went back into a hell they had been rescued from.

One night a week they were sent to the wolves, everyone knew it would be a night of rape and tears. The darkest part is that the best scenario was that for most of the week the girls were safe. This awful concession scenario was a hopeful improvement over life before this.

Now a days, these girls can stay and live. They are Josie’s Angels. They will NEVER be sold again.

The afternoon we spent there, one would never guess what had happened. Some of them laughed and sang Katy Perry songs. They watched Step Up downstairs and swooned over Channing Tatum. They go to school and get an education. They are being daily restored and renewed. They are reclaiming that part of them that has been stolen. They are still little girls.

Justice has started being dealt as well, one of the rapists is now in prison. They are not forgotten either. As much as we want them so suffer, die, and bear the brunt of the evil they have done, Christ has called us to so much more. So a prison ministry reaches out to the hardest to love.

That is utterly not of this earth.

Alabaster – Rend Collective Experiement

The Angels need support too, if anyone wants to write letters and financially support one to love on.

That day at the home was the beginning of a journey into a new thing for me.

Powerlessness.

Josie has felt the deep struggle inside, I am now just beginning to enter into that.

Walking the streets of Subic, knowing I am only here for a brief moment, I find that I am utterly broken for these girls. Yet I have to leave behind these wounded souls. I am overwhelmed by everything.

Subic was a port city with an Air force/Navy base nearby. Amidst the town live old sailors and ex-patriots. Open perverts. For years it was a stop for Johns. A classic place of debauchery and guilty nights.

In our little journey to scout out the land, Josie talked to one man who told of all the girls he has had in the last two weeks. Prices. The things he did. And the hardest part of all is that to him, these broken women are being given opportunity.

The man was audacious enough to believe that funneling money into prostitution is helping them support families and fight poverty.

We heard of girls often sold for 300 Pesos. Less than 10 dollars.

As we walked the streets, bar girls called out to me. I felt ashamed to be an American. No one thought I was there for the beaches and Jesus.

I was sickened to think that these girls secretly associated me with the old men walking around. I was broken to know that they wouldn’t even understand the story of Jesus. A man, who loved them?

How outrageous that must sound to a bruised body far older than its age.

I felt powerless.

The other day I wrote a story of Redemption (Right Here)

It amazes me that out of all the stories in the universe, we live out one of being bought and sold. It cost so much to buy us. Yet instead of being used and abused like long-forgotten property, we are restored and brought into an inheritance.

What a loving God we serve. How fearful we should be of being bought and sold under any tyrant, yet the love of God makes his ownership utterly comforting.

I feel powerless. Every day I see more and more injustice. My heart burns in agony. Knowing that as I sleep… Knowing I cannot change what is happening.

Yet I have hope, people like Josie are changing that. One day she hopes to funnel street girls into rescue shelters. To fight the injustice done in the name of lust.

I can see God in so much of this. Isaiah opens with the condemnation of Israel for forgetting the orphan and the widow, for ignoring justice. I see people and a generation here though that are awaking to that. We don’t want to be another generation that watches the world burn.

I am just a small voice crying out in the darkness here but  know one thing…

I am not a lone voice. Josie, Jeff, and many others here have been fighting, pioneering, crying, praying, sweating, to see this world changed.

You can be part of that work too. Be it supporting those young girls, or the missionaries on both the World Race and abroad. Or by even coming out here to fight the things going on. Pray about it. Don’t let the sun go down without thinking…

Am I really doing anything to stop this injustice?

That night we drove through. I saw through rain covered windows the neon red lights as we exited Subic. I began to sob. Silently, unable to share my tears with the people filled van. A man passes me by, in his late sixties. He has a young girl around his arm. My heart breaks.

I may not have the power to change this, I may be broken to my core and unable to breathe through tears, but I know of someone with real power. So I pray, and I pray that this man will be brought to extreme conviction. He will be broken by a lover he doesn’t understand. A God who gave everything for him. I pray that girl will be rescued, redeemed, and see a good life.

When all you can do is pray, you at least know someone far greater than you is ready to move.

Love of A Jealous Kind – Jars of Clay

This is it (Not the Michael Jackson story)

I am an Incurable Fanatic.

I belong to a fellowship of the unashamed. By blood or sweat, dedicated to proving true everything we know about God. Willing to lose it all, forsake it all.

Just hours before I leave.

God, it’s so real.

Alabaster – Rend Collective Experiment

I love my family, I love them so much.

I adore my friends in Dallas. The commune. The adventures.

I cannot wait to reconnect with the people in Florida. I live to work at camp.

I am also obsessed with my ferret. She has a PHD, so it’s acceptable.

I love America. I love the way the trees explode with vibrant green in Seattle. I love the history and culture of Philadelphia. The way every animal in Florida wants to kill me.

Even still, today I am embarking to leave everything. To leave the American dream.

To sleep in tents and shower less than is comfortable. To spend long hours on flights to foreign lands. To get sick and eat food that I probably would never ever imagine.

To put it simple…

I am freaking passionate about seeing this world know change, know Jesus, know the hope of eternal life. I wish people could look inside this tattered soul and understand the weight of what I am absorbing.

Not a day goes by that I do not mourn the loss of not seeing my family grow older, my friends in Seattle live and learn what they believe, my brothers in Dallas take on the world, my family in Philly take on Yeehawville, my best friends in Florida be a light to the youth of America. I mourn leaving my homeland, my national identity as an American, I mourn it all.

I weep. I cry. I bite my lip and know… it costs something.

It costs more then people understand. For all the adventure and fun, there are so many more tear stained uncomfortable tired nights. Days when you work until your head hits a pillow and grin and laugh and weep because life is both good and ultimately filled with loss.

It is filled with seasons. And who are we to argue that a good season should continue and a bad season should stop? Is not the dark and cold winter still majestic and as necessary as the bright hot summer? People come in seasons. Sometimes I find myself hoping a season doesn’t end so much that I get lost in my head and lose the very season I’m in.

Why? Why would I give up the years of my youth to live in the uncomfortable? Why would I leave so often? Why am I so transient?

I am drawn along by a fanatical passion to stop the ills and injustice of this world. To reach people with the only hope that conquers everything from human trafficking to murder to hopelessness to burn-out.

Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.

Years ago He came to earth, a wanderer and a warrior. Battling against the darkest spiritual forces, the Son of God declared war on sin and the kingdom of Satan. He came down and lived a perfect life. As people gazed upon Him they found themselves drawn to the most beautiful of men. A heart so connected with the father. The heart of God. He saw the hooker and the outcast, and did not judge. Instead He poured out love. He let the lame walk and the lame follow Him. He did not cast out children. He did not run from lepers. Then He poured out His blood. We killed Him for the scandalous message of grace.

I weep just thinking of it.

Years ago I encountered Him. I saw His wounds. I heard His message. My life was forever changed. He has risen from the dead, He is coming back again.

In the old dusty book of Hebrews, it is said that our home is not on this world. Followers of Christ wait for a kingdom beyond that of gold and Earth. We have a citizenship in celestial palaces, ambassadors for beings far beyond the shackles of humanity and the flesh. Then it is said that some people looked so forward to this place, this dwelling of man and God, that they gave up everything. Persecuted, beaten, tortured, violently and brutally murdered. These followers of God went before us ,an example. In the end they didn’t receive a reward in their lifetime. The reasons being, this very world, was not worthy of rewarding them with.

Those of whom the world is not worthy. Something far greater awaited them.

Awaits us.

I sin, sometimes I absolutely suck at life, I sleep in too late. I eat too much. I laugh at jokes far more vulgar then I’m comfortable with. Yet everyday I am trying, running, racing, growing, to just get better and better. And now it is time to leave, time to go on a soul journey for the kingdom of God. To tell the nations about Him. I am so tired of wasted days and forgotten opportunities.

I am not going because it’s easy. I am not going because it is convenient. I am not even going because it is adventurous.

I leave because a man died for me. It cost so much. More then I will ever know. It cost Him everything to die for a selfish, filthy, incredible ungrateful man.

Then He made me new. Selfless, clean, thankful. He has made me a new creation, with a good heart.

Now, in the only way I know how, I am a messenger of this. I go to share the scandal of grace with the nations. To speak of a love so beyond anything we have known that it seems unreal and utterly insane. Utterly fanatical.

“If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.” 
― William Wilberforce

So it begins. September 10th is the first day of my World Race.

Today I leave for the Philippines.

Yet I can’t do that alone, I need people to bath me in prayer, to contribute financially to the 8000$ I have still to raise, to check up and let me know America is still around.

I’m asking if you’ve read this far to prayerfully consider, supporting this trip, consider being incurable. Fanatical. Dedicated to seeing the lost know Christ, the sick know healing, the hopeless know life. Maybe it’s through the World Race. Maybe it is at the office, the school, the home. It is time to be sold out, fanatical, and do crazy things for Jesus.

I’m going. I am tired. Terrified. Weepy. Desperate. Desperate to find God. To meet God. To know Him.

Will you go with me?

Please Be My Strength – Gungor