Al-Pal

the older you get, be more foolish. be more risky.

i like reading old tumblr and facebook posts from freshmen and sophomore year when all of us caught on fire for the Lord for the first time. and then that passion leaked onto our social media in the form of blogposts and statuses of just unbridled praises to the Lord.

trust me, i’m all for believing that God takes us from glory to glory, and that the future will be better than the past… but some people look back on those old posts and think “wow, what a naive fool i was then”. but i look back on those posts and think, “wow, what a naive fool i am NOW for not being as child-like and sold-out as i was back then”.

Healthy men who don’t know the Lord are more sickly than the dying who know Christ.
Me
the double-sided spirit of offense, knucka

i understand this is kind of controversial. i don’t doubt that there’s people that disagree with me. but i want to address it anyway: people are too easily offended these days. but i want to address another thing: i get too easily offended by people who too easily get offended.

fudge.

so first off, let me address that first item. a little bit about myself, i grew up with the principle of discipline instilled in me from my parents and teachers, and i am oh so grateful for that. i’m also grateful that this discipline didn’t come in the form of physical abuse and paddles, but rather in the communication of urgency and intentionality. not saying i got discipline in the bag by now, but no one had to hit me to push me… they only just coached me and pushed me to work hard when i wasn’t doing something right. for instance, my drumline instructor. i think the most rewarding thing in high school was being on the drumline. every practice, my drumline instructor yelled at us. he screamed at us. he made us run and do pushups. heck, one time he threw a shoe at us (okay, that one is questionable). anyway, he called us out on our crap and made sure we didn’t leave practice without knowing how we could be better. but you know the crazy thing is? we LISTENED. we OBEYED. we didn’t take things so personally. we wanted to get better. we knew that at the end of the day, he loved us so much, and he wanted bring out the best and most excellent in us. (which is why my school wins championships every year…)

thus, i bring that kind of perspective to the topic. of course, that anecdote was a little specific, but here’s the essence of what i’m getting at. when people do or say something that i feel like could be an attack or shot at me, i admit my first inclination is, indeed, to feel offended. but then with all that i learned in my upbringing, my second inclination is just to not take things so personally (so easily too, i might add… of course you can’t expect someone to not ever take a single thing personally). 95% of the time, it wasn’t meant to be taken personally. the remaining 5% of the time, maybe it was a personal attack, and it’s okay to respond to it a little more. but my question is why are people taking things personally ALL the time? i think it comes from two things: (1) a short-sighted perspective, and (2) idolatry of yourself. 

when you have a short-sighted perspective, you can’t see the world outside of yourself. life is all about what happens to you and how you feel as a result. these people have a low EQ. to these guys, i say relax!! understand the situation as a whole. there is way more going on in the world than what’s happening to you right now. have some empathy.

idolatry of self is so eloquently addressed by Paul in the Bible. when Paul brings up anything about “dying to the flesh” in Scripture, i believe the modern translation really is: “get over yourself”. (forgive me. ironically, this is the offensive-sounding part of me that’s about to come out). if you’re a Christian, the notion of getting over yourself should have crossed your mind by now. it’s not about you anymore. you don’t live your own life, it’s Jesus who is in you and in control of your life!! (Galatians 2:20). stop thinking that you’re entitled to anything. stop thinking that people need to hang out with you. stop resisting correction. also, stop hating people with your offended spirit… that very spirit of offense you carry in you is absolutely ruining not only your relationships with your brothers and sisters, but also, straight up, your own well-being. people that are offended easily are obviously hurt easily. they don’t guard their heart in truth and the soberness of Christ, but rather they tarnish it with made-up scenarios and fantasies of how they imagine things to be. why paint a pre-conceived picture of the situation and live in a made-up world? when you don’t know the truth, it always leads you to imprisonment to sin. let the truth set you free!! (John 8:32).

but here’s the thing… whenever i ponder other people’s sensitivity and their aptitude for getting offended easily, the Lord almost always leads me back to the state of my own heart and how i need to show SO much more grace to these folks. at the end of the day, i feel like the Lord is always telling me that i don’t know them. i don’t know how their upbringings have shaped them.. heck, i don’t even know how their DAY went so far. in other words, where is my sensitivity to people’s sensitivity?? of course, this revelation isn’t coming from a God who is justifying the spirit of offense. it is coming from a God who is revealing to me and convicting me that i am partaking in a similar spirit of offense. to be honest and fair, i will say that it really does suck when people misconstrue something i said or did, and all of a sudden i’m the bad guy. i’ve found that i don’t really get along with hyper-sensitive people in the long run. but why am i so offended if people are offended by me? ahh… that’s right, it’s cuz i stink too and i’m sinful. i need to not have even a trace of self-righteousness being proud of my ability to not get offended easily… why should i boast in that? let me boast in Christ instead. so basically, my final point is that i guess i kind of do partake in the same spirit of offense. that’s why i titled this post what it is. lol i guess it’s just one of those instances in life that make me realize (1) wowww… i suck, and (2) i absolutely need You, Jesus.

Lord, increase my disgust of sin while increasing my love for You and Your people! And may Your people live in unity without distrust and divisive sensitivity to one another!!

i don’t want to be a good steward of my pre-med aspirations but a flaky Christian.

i don’t want to be faithful church brother but an unfaithful son.

and i don’t want to be hard-worker but not a hard-rester.

all of these things are important—even honorable. but know your priorities.  let us still consider all these things rubbish in comparison to the surpassing worth of knowing (and loving and resting in) Jesus Christ our Lord.

Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.

- Habakkuk 3:17-19

God, would You be glorified in all the world despite whatever sin or shortcoming may come to me, from me, or around me.

Our culture has accepted 2 huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. Second is that to love someone means that you must agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.
Melissa Klein

i want to be this kind of son, brother, husband, father, and man…

may i be wrung out for the Lord.

RE2PECT

i’m not into baseball, but i have a lot of respect for Derek Jeter. even though i never got into baseball, he was made famous in my childhood through baseball cards, “backyard baseball”, and games on the diamond in elementary school.

to think that this is a man that has accomplished so much for the sport and for the culture of america. to think that witnessing him play made this one of the greatest era’s of baseball in history. to see the respect that this man is given by everybody, and i mean EVERYBODY. a man that is so great that fans and opponents alike can’t argue that this man is worthy of applause. a man so great that even his opponents feel obliged to tip their caps out of respect. a man that, at the end of the day, no one can really hate that much.

i don’t know, there’s just something very superhuman about this man. i’ve never seen anything like it. but i dig it.

hypocrites. part 2.

i will admit that hypocrites have EVERY right to turn me off. there is nothing about putting on a fake show on the outside that is admirable or lovable. in fact, Jesus rebukes the crap out of it in Matthew. “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me” Matthew 15:8. i would hate for Jesus to describe me as this. but hold up for one hot second. Jesus, the one with the highest authority to condemn and judge also had the highest love to still die for these guys. when He was on that cross, He was thinking in His heart with the deepest compassion, “those are the ones i love. those are the ones that i’m doing this for. i want those guys in my family. my heart breaks for them, but may they spend eternity in paradise with me.”

^ okay, all i’m gonna say is that if Jesus thought THAT, then FUDGE, i can stop right there. eff me for thinking otherwise. i am utterly ruined for hating hypocrites. sure, i can’t find their silver lining, but wow… Jesus died for them too? buuut since our post-modern world is so stubborn and has a fake “desire for practicality” (honestly, i’m just gonna call it what it is and say that it’s cynicism), i’ll explain myself further.

what i’m about to type is going to be capitalized for emphasis, but here it goes: WOULD IT MAKE ANY SENSE IF THE CHURCH WERE PERPETUALLY FREE OF HYPOCRITES?? no, it wouldn’t! you wanna know why? because Jesus died for them!! Jesus wanted to INCLUDE the worst of the worse inside His church! not that they would stay in their sin, but that they would die to their flesh and come to completely surrender their life to the Lord… even if it takes (oh, i dunno) the entire duration of their college career! or even longer! that’s why i want to see hypocrites in the church! i want to see them CHANGED by the love of God starting where they are! i PRAY that hypocrites would file into our church and begin to hear the gospel and be discipled by it and learn from Jesus. just an aside, but btw, learning takes a while, so have some patience, for goodness’ sake!

i think the problem is that we love sanctification too much. or rather, we LOOOVE sanctification in other people, but when it comes to sanctification in us, nope, not so much. it’s so easy to call people out in our minds. it’s so easy to point and say that they’re not living biblically. but man, i pray that we’d be the kind of people that for every ONE thing we point out in someone else, we’d find like FIVE more things wrong with ourselves. i love what Paul says when He writes in 1 Timothy 1:

This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life., “

It’s not that there was some sort of ESPN Rankings for sinners, and Paul came in dead last. but rather, Paul had the audacity. the conviction. the humility to say that he has absolutely no place to hatefully judge another man. but to say “hey, if God can do it through me, He can certainly do something through that one person that messes up all the time.”

of course, i will say that there are things that are just not okay. lying isn’t okay. faking isn’t okay. i hope that in all of this i wasn’t justifying hypocrisy. and i’m not defending the cause of hypocrites as much as i am trying to rebuke cynicism and judgment. this isn’t some long-winded way of telling you guys to give people the benefit of the doubt. but rather, i want this to be a slap in the face and a hearty reminder that (a) you’re not God, (b) you suck too, and (c) there’s grace for that, so let’s turn our eyes upon JESUS and worship HIM for who HE is, and not what our congregation is!! i want to be a man of God. a man that loves God. not a man that loves sanctification more than God.

and my very last word on the subject is that it’s truly all about Jesus… i’d rather walk out of church thinking “wow, what a great God” rather than “wow, what a great pastor and congregation”. fundamentally, God is what keeps me going to church and loving the church. not the people.

hypocrites. part 1.

now, before you assume that i’m about to enter into an emotional tirade about how much i hate hypocrites…. i’m not. i’m actually here to tell you sort of the opposite. i kinda love hypocrites. no, i don’t like what they do, but hey, i. love. hypocrites. i love the PERSON that is a hypocrite.

fyi, i’m primarily speaking from the perspective of hypocrisy as it pertains to church, but i’m certain this can apply to other things too. and the point of this is not to condemn anyone. i just want to shed light on something.

first off, i want to say that on behalf of the church, i’m sorry. i’m a hypocrite sometimes. so are my friends. and i’m not JUSTIFYING the acts of hypocrites, but i just want to say this: if you don’t like church because you hate hypocrites, then you’re one too. you don’t understand the gospel then. you say you want to love/know Jesus and the church more, but that “those dang hypocrites are in your way”. sure, that stuff stumbles people, but the very gospel of Jesus Christ not only implies but DEMANDS that people can’t love Jesus and NOT love their brother/sister whom they see everyday (if you don’t believe me, read 1 John 3 and 4… says it all). love people when they’re awesome. love people when they’re hypocrites.

brothers and sisters, this is something that’s DEEP on my heart. i might resent the act of hypocrisy, but i personally resent the act of divisive slander and ignorance even more. people say they can go to a church and immediately tell who’s faking it. and then they say they get turned off by the church. first off, i just want to say that no—you are HUMAN, and i don’t care who you are, but you have an abjectly finite and small and narrow understanding of what’s going on in someone’s life. the Lord is doing WAY more in that person’s life than you will ever be able to know. and let’s say SURE, maybe you do have some crazy ability to discern who’s faking it, but let me say this: if you have discernment to tell other people’s sins but not your own, then that’s not discernment. that’s judgmental. if you’re truly spending time with the Lord, the number of sins He exposes in you should DEVASTATINGLY outweigh the number of sins you find in other people (reminiscent of when Paul talks about the thorn in his flesh in 2 Corinthians 12). and what’s even worse is when people go on to slander churches and slander people with their mouths and even in their hearts. forever, that church or person is branded by them as “hypocritical”. come on guys. stop having a consumeristic mindset when you come to church. stop keeping a running record of what’s wrong with your church. stop being distracted in your worship by something you’re making up in your mind. that’s the furthest thing from biblical. 

i knew this post was going to be long, so i split it up into two parts. i read an MCAT verbal passage that argued that splitting a long reading into two parts makes it more engaging and better comprehended. i agree. i want this stuff to be read and comprehended… thus, if you like what you read, please proceed to part 2!! i have more to say haha