paper lanterns – divine love affair, pt ii

part i.

Everyday I walk to the ocean, once in the morning for the sunrise, once in the evening for the sunset.

Some days, the sun doesn’t rise. Other days, it doesn’t set.
Some days, it’s neither.

Once in a while, I will take a trip to myself in the wilderness, and get away from the city. I spend my time driving up and down the coast, in search of one called God.

Some days, she is there. Other days, she is not.

This is the third trip that I made this year and this time, I’m camping out in Big Sur.
I’m walking on a trail in the Redwood forest, meandering in step and in thought, when I spot a patch of red paper in the distance.

My heart elates. I step off the trail and carefully way my way through the brush to untangle it from the shrub.

The candle is still barely smoking, emitting gentle pulses of warmth. I unfold the slightly-torn lantern and look inside.

There is ink on it,
but it is smudged away by rain. It is barely illegible.

Sigh.

I pack the scraps in my bag, step back onto the trail, and continue walking.

“Table for two?”

“One.”

She smiled.

“Right this way.”

Days are slow here.

I chose to leave the noise of the city, but some days, I cannot stand the silence.

The California coastline is one of my favorite places in the world. I’ve never been to Big Sur before so I give it a shot.

Yesterday, I spent the whole day in the woods, so today, I decide to go to the water. The cliffs here are incredible and I could probably spend the whole day looking at the waves crash into them.

But there is a thick fog that has rolled in, and the ocean – along with everything else – carries a deadened gray hue.

It is underwhelming.

I try again the next day. And the next.
But the persistent fog refuses to leave. Every day, more fog rolls in and covers the sky and I am unable to enjoy the scenery.

Time passes at a strangely slow tempo here.

No sunrise. No sunset.

They say God speaks in mysterious ways.

“I opened for my beloved, but my beloved had left;
he was gone. My heart sank at his departure.

I looked for him but did not find him. I called him but he did not answer.”

I’m driving up and down the golden coast, in search of God. I trek through thick Redwood forests and scale cliffsides, hoping for a mere glimpse.

“Maybe this is a good place to look.”

Oftentimes, I do not know if I really found her.

I have a memory that still sticks with me, one that
even after all this time, still glows.

The sun is setting, but the air is dense and humid. We hurry up and finish painting on the red fabric for our mobile love letter.

Mom shows me the characters once more, slowly swashing brushstrokes with care and finesse. I try to imitate, but I was never good at calligraphy, or anything artistic, for that matter.

My characters look gloppy and messy – like a child’s watercolor painting. But the sun has set, so we finish up our inkwork to prepare for liftoff.

I watch as my mom slowly folds and creases the canvas, repeating the motion multiple times, until the ink-splattered piece forms a paper orb.

“Woah.”

I am mesmerized watching Mom turn our messy paintings into paper lanterns, soon to take flight.

Each of us takes a lantern and runs outside. Mom places a small dish of strange jelly inside, telling us it will help them fly.

There are crowds outside, other rowdy Taiwanese families eager to send off their own lanterns. The sky darkens, and the crowd hushes.

It is time.

Mom takes the lighter and ignites the jelly. Our lanterns inflate and take a life of their own. Soon enough, they begin floating and lifting off the ground.

I am a little scared to let it go, knowing how much effort I put into my Taiwanese-American characters, but I feel the thing pulling and tugging away gently.

My mom nudges me, “It’s time to let go.”

My small hands are clenched but after hearing Mom speak,
I unfurl my fingers.

I watch in awe, as the glowing lantern floats away,
higher and higher into the sky,
joining hundreds of other lights,
like a swarm of fireflies.

“Where will they go??”, I ask Mom.

I don’t remember what she told me that night.

But a part of me – the little Taiwanese child part of me – wants to believe that it floated somewhere far, far away beyond the horizon, where somebody else would be watching,
waiting to catch it.

I’m snaking my way through the winding Highway One.
It is a mind-numbing, mostly-gray drive.

I see a restaurant on the side of the road, and without thinking, pull over. I stop the engine, pull the key out of ignition, and sit in the deadened silence for a while.

I step outside my car, and walk inside.

“Table for two?”

“One.”

She smiled.

“Right this way.”

I get seated and look through the menu, but I’m heavily distracted by what’s in front of me – or rather, what’s not. Every few minutes, I peek over the menu, and hide behind it again.

“All ready to order?”

“Um, few more minutes.”

I forget what I order.

I sit around waiting, letting the feeling sink in. Twiddling my thumbs by the candlelight. Checking my phone with no reception.

Staring into the gaping, empty chair in front of me as I eat,
listening to other peoples’ conversations,
other couples’ conversations,

thinking to myself –
“Is this what desperate people do?
Am I crazy?”

How do I love you if I can’t even see you?
How is this going to work between us?

Is this our relationship?

I drive home that day, slightly buzzed from one too many.

The next morning, I scrawl onto a dinner napkin –

If it weren’t for this dreadful fog, 
these waves would be so much bluer,
the hills would be more alive,
spirits would be lighter,

life would be so much more colorful.

It’s been three days. Or, has it?

“Lift the fog.”

By the third – or fourth – day, I’m feeling ready to go home. I’m sick of hearing only my own voice, so I pack my bags.

I drive out into the woods again, and snake my way through Highway One, spotify on shuffle. Meandering in route and in sound.

Within the first thirty minutes of winding road,
the clouds clear, and the sun abruptly pierces through.

Finally, the fog lifts.

Then, I see it.

A speck of red, buried in shrub.

I slam my breaks and pull over at the next turnout. Emergency lights on. Treading carefully through the brush, I make my way to the paper lantern tangled in the foliage.

The candle is still barely glowing –
emitting gentle pulses of warmth – even after all this time.

I pick it up. I see traces of gloppy, messy letters, smudged and weather-worn after its long journey.

I unfold the torn lantern and look inside.

She looked off to the side, the way she does when she’s thinking – like her mind is onto something. Gentle pulses of warmth ebb and flow from the candlelight between us.

She pulled out her pen and grabbed my napkin.

“Let me show you something.”

And on she went, scribbling and scrawling whatever idea was up her sleeve. I looked intently, as she drew with care and finesse. I could see the resolve in her furrowed eyebrows.

Pen click. Push napkin.

“Here.”

I looked at her inklings. They looked great, but I didn’t understand.

“Looks like a wine glass… and an elderly man with a cane. Um, walking stick.”

“So.. what do you think?”

“Well, they both.. smell funny.”

She rolled her eyes.

“Think.”

“Okay um… well the wine glass reminds me of romantic dinners and fancy things. An expensive treat. And the walking stick makes me think of old age.”

She kept her eyes fixed on me, as if I would suddenly read her mind and understand everything.

“…Am I close?”

“Mmm you’re getting somewhere.”

“Growing old. Together.”

“Mhmm..”

“Oh, like an old couple. Wait, are you..”

“Hey. Focus. What do the two have in common??”

“They both.. smell funny.”

“They both age well.”

I picked up the napkin and examined it closely, then looked at her. Then back at the napkin, then back at her.

“The longer you let wine sit, the better it tastes. It draws out a flavor that is sweeter, darker, – yet richer. Sure, it might be harder to appreciate than say, apple juice, but it’s an acquired taste.”

“And acquired tastes are the best tastes.”

“Right.”

My turn to look off-screen. Her words took their time, sinking in.

“Hey… we’re both getting older.
Don’t you want to save the magic??”

I drove home that night feeling slightly buzzed, and it wasn’t just the alcohol. I took the napkin and stuffed it in my coat pocket on our way out, when she wasn’t looking.

What she said still echoed in my mind –
about growing older and how much harder it gets,
about deepening the flavor.

Aging well.

I thought about all the transitions I’ve made into adulthood recently and how much harder it’s been. Time has done its due and I am getting older. Searching for the Kid has not been the same.

I thought about how Kid Wonder keeps disappearing, again and again, and why he can’t just sit still in one place.

And I think the answer has something to do with romance.

The way it ages, but only gets better and better. The way it gets older, then becomes young all over again.

The playfulness of it all.
The teasing, the inside jokes, the roleplaying,
the cheesiness and the ridiculousness,

– the childlikeness.

The way it hides, then shows itself for no reason again.

Kid Wonder is still out there, so I must keep looking for him.

Everyday I walk to the ocean, once in the morning for the sunrise, once in the evening for the sunset.

Some days, the sun doesn’t rise. Other days, it doesn’t set.
Recently, it’s been neither.

I drive up and down the golden coast, in search of God. I trek through thick Redwood forests and scale cliffsides, hoping for a mere glimpse.

They say God speaks in mysterious ways.

“…for your love is more delightful than wine.”

“We rejoice and delight in you; 
we will praise your love more than wine.”

– Solomon

Oftentimes, I do not know if I really found her.

It is day four, and I decide it is time to go home.
Back into civilization, back into 4G LTE cell service,
back into adulting life. Whatever that means.

I’m snaking my way along Highway One, spotify on shuffle. It is refreshing to see the sun for once.

One lane eventually splits into two, then three,
and “Paper Airplane” starts playing. I listen to the words and think, maybe this is the type of relationship God wants with me.

Sending letters, throwing paper airplanes across the ocean,
and such.

Longing for our lovers, but at a distance.
Separated by spacetime.

Waiting.

I drive out into the Redwoods and travel along golden coastlines, scouring the land for messages in bottles, lanterns from faraway places, any sort of trace of her.

I look for any sign, that she is still out there,
still also looking.

Somedays, I find something. Other days, I do not.

Before I leave, I write a message of my own. I fold the delicate fabric, carefully creasing at the right spots, and craft my own paper lantern.

I place a small dish of strange jelly inside the orb, and ignite it with flame.

The lantern inflates and my mobile love letter is now glowing.

I am scared to let go, but I feel it tugging and pulling gently, as if nudging me to release.

After a moment, I pray that it will reach her, and let go. The lantern lifts up and the wind blows it towards the horizon. I stare at the floating light – the singular firefly – before it floats further and further away beyond eyeshot.

I cannot leave until I see it cross the horizon, because it is so sad, yet so beautiful.

As if watching a second sunset.

I’m not sure who God is,
but I can’t help but think that our divine love affair is like a long-distance relationship.

stone the prophet

God uses those whom we hate the most to teach us how to love.

 

Who do you think has nothing to teach you about God?
Drug addicts? Prostitutes? Atheists? Dear God, the Liberals? Your own family? Baby Christians?

It is no surprise that Jesus used a poor, Samaritan, promiscuous woman to teach his ethnically-prideful posse of Jewish men how to be a missionary. It is no surprise that the Spirit sent Peter into the hands of his Roman oppressor to show him that even his oppressors were invited into the Kingdom. It is no surprise that God sent Jonah to the city of Nineveh, for the Ninevites, of all people, had something to teach him about the depth of God’s heart.

He could have used a witty parable but he didn’t. He could have invited a critically-acclaimed megachurch pastor with a riveting sermon and fancy powerpoint slides. But he didn’t.

 

They’ve stripped me of my dignity. Beaten, broken, and marred. They disowned me so I responded in kind. I ran and ran. Not looking back. I can’t. But I was eaten alive. I crawled upon the shores of which the sands were all too familiar. You’re meaning to tell me that I am to learn from the one who dealt me my deepest scars? What could he possibly teach me?

 

If we follow Jesus, we must pass the mic to those we assume have nothing to teach us about Him. To those whom we refuse to believe have the authority to do so. To those whom we have learned to tune out. We need to give them permission to speak truth into our hearts. We need to believe that they have just as much Jesus to offer us as our beloved, hip youth pastors.

Where is your Samaria? Where is your Nineveh? Whom have you forgotten how to love? Go. Go to them, for that is our mission.

 

“The delivery of the message must be as good as the message itself.”

#gettrekt16 – the mission (entry 2)

When Jesus walked the earth, He didn’t teach His disciples how to lead a bible study. Nor did He teach them how to convert people. Jesus didn’t send His students to seminary or to ministry-training conferences. No. His heart was set on far more important things. When Jesus walked the earth, He taught His disciples how to love.

Love is the mission.

 

Today marks the 10th official day that the Global Urban Trek of Thailand has been on site (post-orientation). Each of the four teams have a unique opportunity to learn from and partner with organizations that are trying to figure out how to bring the Kingdom of God to some of the most marginalized populations in the world, such as victims of human trafficking, modern-day lepers, and refugees. For decades, these “ministry veterans” have been pouring out their lives in sacrifice to ensure that love and justice are delivered to those the world has deemed unworthy of it.

My team (of 4) and I have the privilege of partnering with the Ruth Center, an 8-year old ministry that is working to address the issue of the large elderly population that has been literally cast aside by society. Many of these elderly have been abandoned, ignored, and forgotten because of relational crises, financial problems, etc. and are left to live on their own.

This summer, Michael, Janet, Victoria, and I will be taking care of some grandmas and grandpas. We will be making sure their daily needs are met and building a relationship with them. We will be grocery shopping with them, doing laundry with them, watching dramas with them, and the like. Yes, I know, it’s not the most glamorous testimony, but I believe Jesus is presenting to us a special invitation: to practice the Incarnation. To be subject under the same living conditions as their own. To share meals together. To breathe the same sweet fragrance of the slums. To use the same squatty-potty. To share the same mosquito net at night. To share life together. To make their struggles our struggles and to make their joys our joys. To weave our own thread of life into their’s.

This is how we met Poon-Tam. Michael and I call him Daa, which means “Grandpa” in Thai, and we will be his grandsons for the summer. Daa is quite the enigma, to say the least. He has tough skin (literally and figuratively) yet he’s a softie for little children and kittens. We’re still trying to figure him out.

To put it lightly, living with this man has been one of the most difficult and mentally straining challenges we’ve had in a while. Communication with Daa quickly saps are our energy to the point of exhaustion and simple house chores that should take 10 minutes can take up to an hour. Daa doesn’t have RBF per se, but I have yet to meet another man who can match his level of stoicism. He is a man of few words and his expressions rival that of a brick wall.

Perhaps the most challenging obstacle I have yet to surmount is Daa’s lopsided tendencies to balance encouragement and rebuke. The past 10 days have been a draining trial-and-error process of learning how to take care of Daa’s needs and get household tasks done. Because of the language barrier, we often have to play a time-consuming guessing game with each other before any work is accomplished. I have quickly observed that it is really easy to know that you are making a mistake, as Daa has quite a talent for letting you know you messed up. On the contrary, his affirmations are subtle, almost invisible, so you best be paying attention.

As someone who has not heard, “I’m proud of you”, a whole lot growing up, I crave for any verbal affirmation I can get, and to an unhealthy extent, I might add. As you can imagine, I would not thrive in an environment like Daa’s home. I feel like a fish out of water and I don’t like being reminded of how that feels. It is as if salt is being rubbed on a wound that has been open since childhood.

One of my favorite things about reading the biographies of Jesus is being able to laugh at the disciples for how bad they are at following Jesus, only to be promptly notified by the Holy Spirit that I am actually just like them. “How hard could it be to love your neighbor? You guys are noobs.”

Within the first five days of being on-site, God had already reminded me that I had a limit to my love and that Daa was outside of it. Before I had even met him, I had already unknowingly trapped Daa with an unrealistic expectation to show me affirmation in the way that I needed it. And if he didn’t meet those expectations, I shouldn’t have to show him any of my love.

The reality is, direct and verbal affirmations will probably always be of utmost importance to me but I may go through the entire summer without receiving any of it from Daa. Even if he does give it, I probably won’t understand it because we speak different languages.

And therein lies the question of the century: How do I love this man? How do I love someone who I don’t know loves me back? Some dude once said, “relationship is a two-way street” but what if the other person isn’t willing to meet you in the middle? What if they can’t? Are we still expected to love?

It’s hard for me to even fathom that type of love but Christ did it, and it kind of changed everything. I guess I haven’t fully discovered what unconditional love means. I get the feeling that Jesus wants to show me and that may very well be the reason why I’m here this summer. That maybe this trip isn’t so much about the change I can bring to Thailand, but rather, the change that God is going to bring into my heart.

“Jesus, I thank You that You did not wait for me to reciprocate, or even know Your name, before showing me Your love. Remind me of how good Your Good News is. Take my withering heart and expand my capacity to love those whom I have forgotten how to love.”

 

After Jesus was resurrected, three times He asked Simon Peter, “Do you love me?”, to which Peter would respond, “Of course, dude.” Jesus would then command Peter each time, “Then feed my sheep.”

Love is the mission.

 

#gettrekt16

#gettrekt16 – scavenger hunts (entry 1)

Following Jesus is like a box of chocolates. One of my greatest warnings to my brothers and sisters in Christ is to never get used to following Jesus. When following Jesus becomes comfortable, you should be concerned. It’s not that Jesus changes, we just keep discovering more and more of Him. It’s kind of like a space journey.

One place that the Lord never fails to surprise me is in the Harvest field. We just finished our week of orientation in Bangkok and many of us are already getting floored with challenging questions and heavy convictions. “If You love me, why won’t you heal me now? Why don’t you free the oppressed right now? Why do You wait? Why am I here?” I get the feeling that God wants us to wait before answering our burning questions. Wild guess.

A consistent tension that has been mutually shared among the team is the balance of noticing and appreciating the beauty of the city while simultaneously acknowledging its brokenness. It is a tricky spectrum to navigate. As Christians of the North American first-world church, we carry a specific lens that tends to blow some things out of proportion. It is particularly easy to focus on Bangkok’s brokenness while overlooking its beauty.

The topic of empowerment has been on the hearts and minds of Christian / social justice leaders for generations. What does it mean to empower a community? How exactly do you do it? To this day, these questions still baffle even the world’s most-respected humanitarians and sociologists. But one thing that we can be sure of is that we will never empower a people if we can only see their brokenness. When we enter a slum community, what’s the first thing we see, a helpless people group or a thriving collective of intellectuals? Do we see a charity case or the next generation of leaders and world-changers? Do we see them as poor and incapable or do we see them as an untapped well of ingenuity?

Why is it so easy for us to notice, and even define, people (esp. poor people) by what they lack, rather than what they already have? Has our vision become so distorted that we cannot see people for who they truly are, image-bearers of God? I think many of us are still unpacking why Jesus has called us to Bangkok this summer but I firmly believe that for many of us, one thing Jesus wants to do is shed our Western Christian lens that we didn’t know we were wearing and sharpen our vision to see people not only for their weaknesses, but especially for their strengths and resources. Jesus wants to heal some blind people this summer. Forgive us, Lord, for we still see men as trees.

To traverse the tightrope of seeing brokenness and beauty is no easy task. Granted, we still must acknowledge the community’s areas of deficit/poverty, for indeed, they are dire needs. But Jesus doesn’t need to teach us how to do that, because we’re already so good at it. Too good, I would argue. We’re so talented that we’ve invented fields of study about it.

God needs to give a hard shove to reorient us back to the center of balance. The people we will meet this summer have strengths, talents, and abilities that will surprise us. They are God’s gifts to us. It is only until we see them as such that we can begin walking hand-in-hand with them on the windy road to empowerment.

The Kingdom of God is like a great scavenger hunt. And the Harvest Fields are, indeed, plentiful. In fact, the fields have treasures in them, waiting for us. Jesus’ invitation to us, as His laborers, is to go out and look for them.

 

#gettrekt16

the inclusio of scripture

[here’s a little article that’s dedicated to the bible-lovers]

inclusio – a device in literature where a section of text is bracketed off.  the story is placed within a frame, so that it begins and ends the same way.  like a sandwich.  inclusios are everywhere, in books, music, movies, you name it.  we often overlook them the first time we read, listen, watch them, but when we look back, we realize that they’re there and it’s quite mindblowing sometimes.

in onerepublic’s most famous song “apologize”, ryan tedder begins and ends the song the same way, with the words “i’m holding on your rope, got me ten feet off the ground”.  inclusio.  jason mraz both opens and closes “the sunshine song” with “if there’s a light in everybody, send out your ray of sunshine” [excellent song, btw].  inclusio.

in movies, they’re not as prevalent but there still are some out there, such as mission impossible iii.  in the opening scene, ethan hunt is strapped to a chair and watches in agony as the heartless antagonist owen davian counts down to the second he pulls the trigger of the gun pointed at hunt’s wife’s head.  turns out it was a flash.. forward? and the audience does not get to see davian finish counting.  2 hours of intense, spy action sequences later, we revisit the interrogation scene once again, only this time, davian finishes counting as a desperate ethan hunt attempts to negotiate with him.  inclusio.  in forrest gump, both the opening and closing scene show forrest gump [and forrest jr] waiting at the bus stop in greenbow, alabama as a white feather is carried by the breeze into the sky.  inclusio.

i find it weird that i enjoy writing blogs and whatnot but i’m a terrible reader.  i don’t read too much but anyone who knows me well would know that my favorite book of all time is the bible.  just about a month ago, i’ve been made aware that even the bible, the living word of god, has inclusios in it.  if you look in the gospel of mark, there is a very subtle inclusio hidden in chapters 1 and 15.

in chapter 1, we witness the baptism of Jesus [by John] in the Jordan River.  pretty epic moment.  in chapter 15, we witness the death of the messiah as he breathes his last on the cross.  overwhelmingly epic moment.  though baptism and death are two concepts that one would most likely find contrasting to one another, these are the two elements that make up the big juicy sandwich of the “gospel inclusio”.  but how, justin?  how do the baptism and death Jesus make up an inclusio if they’re not even the same thing?  you be trippin, man!  well, let’s take a look at scripture.

1. “At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”    -Mark 1:9-11

here is the scene when Jesus gets baptized.  what observations can we make?  Jesus was getting dunked in the river and as he rose from the water, the heavens opened.  i’d like to say i have a vast and vivid imagination but the imagery in here is simply unfathomable.  i try to picture some large crevice splitting open and creating a divide that breaks some invisible, metaphysical boundary between heaven and earth.  and wind.  lots and lots of gushing, loud wind.  then, the holy spirit makes its way down from the other side of this momentarily fractured barrier and the voice of God thunders from it: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”   holy cheeseballs.

2. “With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died,he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”    -Mark 15:37-39

fast forward 15 chapters.  Jesus dies.  what observations can we make?  as Jesus let out one last sigh, the curtain of the temple tore completely, from top to bottom.  so what temple is mark talking about anyways?  in case you didn’t know, it was the temple of Jerusalem [Herod’s temple, if i am not mistaken] and inside this holy temple, animal sacrifices were made as well as worship according to the Law of Moses.  there was also a room called the Holy of Holies, in which the presence of God resided.  it also contained the Ark of the Covenant [yes, the one in indiana jones].  this place was so sacred that no one could enter into this inner sanctuary except the High Priest once a year to make atonement for the people’s sins.  this room was separated from the rest of the temple by a curtain.  and this wasn’t just any old window curtain that you put on for decoration.  it was a 4-inch thick curtain with such strength that even horses tied to each side could not pull apart.  oh yeah, it was also 60 feet tall.  pretty buff curtain.  but not buff enough.  when this curtain tore in half, even the Roman centurion instantly knew that Jesus was certainly the son of God and he was so sure about it that he felt like he had to say it out loud.  holy cheeseballs.

okay, now it’s time to connect the dots.

EXHIBIT A

in mark chapter 1, jesus was baptized by water.  while one may think that this is just something that all believers must do as a public profession of their faith and acceptance of God as their heavenly Father, baptism also has another meaning.  “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” [Romans 6:3-4]  baptism, in essence, means death.  so what was Jesus up to at the end of Mark?  oh yeah, dying.  bingo.

EXHIBIT B

after Jesus’ baptism, the heavens OPENED!  after Jesus’ death, the curtain OPENED!  well..  tore in half.  if you haven’t already got it, the curtain wasn’t just an extraordinarily buff curtain, it was a symbolic representation of the separation of God and Man.  separation of the Holiest of Holies and the rest of the temple.  of sinless and sinful.  of light and darkness.  of the heavens and earth.  when Jesus died for our sins, the impenetrable barrier between us and God was shattered.  bingo.

EXHIBIT C

after the heavens opened, we hear a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” [Mark 1:11]  this is the voice of God, and He is proclaiming that Jesus is His beloved Son.  after the curtain ripped open, we hear a voice from a bystander: “Surely this man is the Son of God!” [Mark 15:39]  this is the voice of a Roman centurion, and he is proclaiming that Jesus is the Son of God.  bingo.

i don’t know about you but when i first realized all of this, i was completely mindblown.  the entire gospel story of Jesus Christ, wrapped in a big, delicious sandwich.  wickedly cool.  personally, this revelation served as a reminder of just how amazing God’s Word is.  the bible is a truly remarkable book and i think we all ought to spend more time reading it.  trust me, it will change lives.  and lastly, i would like to give a big shout-out and thank you to the fantastic mr. jimmy l., who did such a phenomenal job at sharing God’s truth with me and the other highschoolers at ev.  personally, this was one of the most memorable bible lessons i’ve ever been taught in my entire life.

PRAYER:  heavenly father, thank you for your word.  thank you for this amazing book of life, because through it, we may grow spiritually and learn more about you.  thank you for God-breathed scripture, for it is useful in teaching, rebuking, correcting and training others in righteousness.  it is your truth that we cling on to and it is our double-edged sword.  thank you for revealing yourself in it so that we may see a glimpse of just how great you are.  Lord, please help me grow a desire and eagerness in reading your word.  move my heart and let me have an inclination to hear your truths each and every day of my life.  God, I want to grow in you.  i want to know you more and i want to love you even more than i already do.  help me become a better son.  as always, i am eternally grateful for your gift of love and i will forever praise you.  and it’s in your Son’s most precious name that I pray,  amen.