Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Rewards of Redemption

Redemption = The act of redeeming or the state of being redeemed; Deliverance upon payment of ransom; rescue

Peace and blessings,

One of the things I like about the variety of interests I have regarding hobbies/entertainment (e.g., comic books, video games, tv shows, movies, music) is pulling out "common threads" that link these various hobbies and forms of entertainment together. Furthermore, I'm interested in which types of stories (as told through various forms of media) are popular at different time periods, and what this media seems to be "saying" as a whole about the human condition. For instance, I've noticed that recently, stories that have to do with the essence of being human and the purpose of life seem to be real popular nowadays (e.g., movies like District 9 and Surrogates; television shows like FlashForward, the Sanctuary and V; comic book series' such as the Blackest Night). I plan on addressing some of these in future posts. This post focuses on a particular comic book character, and the current season of one of the best shows on television, Heroes.

"How often must the scoundrel prove himself a hero, before he believes it himself?"

- Professor Xavier talking to Gambit in the last episode of the X-Men animated series (1995)

Since I can remember, my favorite member of the X-Men has been Gambit(I've recently added Storm, Iceman and Nightcrawler to that list). As I look back on his life before, during, and after being an X-Man, I've found it interesting that while he's not necessarily your "gung-ho" hero type, he always seems to aim towards making the "hero-type" decision regardless of the situation he finds himself. And over the years, he's found himself in some crazy situations! Here's a quick run down of some of those situations, and the choices he made in those situations.

Situation #1: While a teen or young adult, Gambit's father introduced him to Mr. Sinister (formerly known as Nathaniel Essex). To allow Gambit to show off his skills (Gambit and his family were part of the Thieves' guilt, whose rivals were the Assassins' guild), Mr. Sinister gave Gambit his first assignment: to break into the Weapon X facility and retrieve Essex's research diary (he did not tell Gambit that he was Essex). Once inside the facility, he saw all of the inhumane experiments that were taking place. Once he found the diary he burned it, on the grounds that no human should be treated like these patients were being treating. Upon returning to Mr. Sinister, he told him that the mission was unsuccessful because he was unable to retreive the diary.

Situation #2: When the manifestation of his power resulted in the death of his former wife's (actual wife at the time) brother, he sought out the help of a mutant geneticist (Mr. Sinister) to "tone down" his powers. As a result, this Mr. Sinister asked to be apart of and recruit members for his group, known as the Mauraders. Although unaware, Gambit was actually recruiting a team whose first mission was to slaughter innocent mutants (Morlocks) living in then sewers. Once he found out, he fought the Marauders and tried to prevent the massacre, and was almost killed in the process. Although unable to prevent the massacre, he was able to save a little girl, Marrow, who would grow up and be a prominent Morlock leader.

Situation #3: Trying to capitalize off of the desperation of the remaining mutants after Scarlett Witch (Magneto's daughter) wiped out over 90% of the mutant population, Apocalypse presented himself as the "mutant savior," ensuring the humans' survival and future triumph. In an interesting move, Gambit volunteers to become one of Apocalypse's horseman, meaning that his powers would be augmented and he would be more powerful. Although he may have agreed with some aspects of Apocalypse's perspective, Gambit warned apocalypse that if he is really trying to harm mutants as opposed to help them, then he would commit himself to stopping apocalypse. After Apocalypse was defeated and Gambit realized the error of his ways, he sought the help of Mr. Sinister to "reverse" what apocalypse had done to him.

Situation #4: Once Mr. Sinister "fixed" him again, Gambit agreed to rejoin the Mauraders, and aid them in finding the "messiah baby" before everyone else (including the X-Men) did. However, Gambit's reason for joining the Mauraders and find the baby was to save Rogue, the love of his life, who was currently dying. Gambit heard of a prophecy that said that this baby would save Rogue's life. The fact that Gambit's situation did not define him (i.e., temporarily running with the Mauraders did not make him a villian) was apparent during his frequent run-ins with the X-men:

(1) When Gambit and the Mauraders try to retrieve Destiny's diaries (Destiny was a mutant could see parts of the future, and her diaries were believed to contain vital information for the future of mutants) from Iceman and Cannonball, Gambit "accidentally" destroyed the diaries before the Mauraders could retrieve them.

(2) When Gambit and Sunfire were ordered by Mr. Sinister to "take out" Cable so he would ruin Sinister's plan for the coming messiah baby, Gambit mentioned a phrase to him during their battle in the form of a hint as to what's to come. Perplexed by the phrase, and realizing that Gambit may have been trying to tip him off to something, Cable researched the phrase on the computer, eventually enabling him to be the first to gain possession of the messiah baby once she was born.

(3) After the X-Men got word of the messiah baby's birth and confronted the Mauraders hoping to find her, Gambit did not join the Mauraders during the fight. In fact, Gambit went to hide, so he would not have to fight the X-Men.

Situation #5: The result of multiple groups fighting each other to the death in order to gain access to the messiah baby was Professor Xavier (founder of the X-Men) being shot in the head. After surviving and going into hiding, Gambit came to his aid to protect him. Interestingly enough, Professor Xavier started his own road to redemption, making amends with mutants he felt that he had wrong in the past. Gambit traveled much of this road alongside him.

As these situations illustrate, Gambit always seems to do things to "make up" for some of the choices he's made. Furthermore, his directionality points towards being a hero, although at times he may not believe he is himself. This idea of redemption seems to be common to the human experience. We often have a need to "make up" for some of the wrong things we felt we've done. Either through changing for the better, performing good acts, or through encouraging others to make better choices than we've made. I guess it makes sense that the title of Gambit's origin story was "Random Acts of Redemption."

4 Years and Counting: God is Good!

Peace and blessings,

Today marks the 4 year anniversary of Speeklife, and I wanted to thank everyone who has read and/or commented on the blog, and those who currently follow the blog. Thanks for the support!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Heavy Rotation: Britt Nicole, Warren Barfield, and Lifehouse

Peace and blessings,

Below are a videos for a few songs that I currently have in heavy rotation: (1) Brit Nicole's "Lost Get Found," (2) Warren Barfield's "Love is Not a Fight," and (3) Lifehouse's "Broken." The first video is a result of Brit Nicole taking a road trip and asking God to put people in her life to share the gospel with during that trip. I think it's a great example of authentic Christianity: demonstrating Christ through our life and the love we show for others. The second video comes from the movie "Fireproof," which is about a couple having marital problems, and the husband uses the "Love Dare" to help him love his wife the way God intended. The third video appears to be about someone reflecting on their life, making the distinction between a life with meaning and one without. Enjoy, share your thoughts, and God bless...

A Few Thoughtz: Archangels: The Fall

"We battled without ceasing, but there was little hope. Swords could not buy redemption, and for every victory there were a hundred defeats. And yet we persevered, trusting that The Almighty would do what His Host could not. Man was cursed, doomed to slavery and the chains of the Dragon, save perhaps, for the grace of the Almighty. And so we warred...and waited...and hoped..."

- Archangels: The Fall, Book 1
(Commenting on the aftermath of Luficer's rebellion in heaven and His fall to earth)

Peace and blessings,

The above quote is taken from Archangels: The Fall (2002), the prequel to Archangels: The Saga, which was discussed a few weeks ago. Told from the perspective of the Archangel Michael, the story details Lucifer's fall from heaven, the subsequent "havoc" he wreaked on earth, and his defeat through Jesus Christ's resurrection. The entire story is made up of a trilogy, with each book focusing on a pivotal aspect of the origin and defeat of sin.

In Book 1, Lucifer basically gets power hungry and tries to undermine God's authority. While his other brethren in the Host try to convince him to see the error of his ways and to fall back in line with God's will, their efforts do not yield the intended results. Not only is Lucifer convinced that his lust for power is justified, he managed to garner a following of angels who are "gassing him up" so to speak. As a result, a war breaks out in heaven, with the Host, the Lord's servants, fighting to defend heaven against this new demonic threat: Lucifer and his minions. The Book ends with Lucifer (now referred to as "the Dragon") and his minions being cast down to earth, losing their place alongside God in heaven...

"I thought of the babe in the arms of His mother, I remembered a boy taking His first steps, and in the midst of the battle I wept. The Dragon saw this and the earth shook with his laughter. His demons joined in the revelry, they were intoxicated with the triumph of their dark master. Though the Host was heartsick with grief and loss, we stood our ground against them as they fell upon us, shouting with mad exhilaration. Truly, it was the Dragon's hour. I knew the Son of God had fulfilled His purpose, but to me, at that moment, it felt like a defeat."

- Archangels: The Fall, Book 2
(Commenting on the life of Jesus as He lay dead on the cross)

Book 2 focuses on how "busy" Lucifer was on earth, first deceiving Adam and Eve and subsequently orchestrating a devastating wave of sin that penetrated the lives of every born human. This period is marked by constant fighting between the Host and Lucifer and his minions, with the former trying to keep humanity within the Will of God and the latter trying to deceive humanity into choosing anything and everything but God's will. Then Jesus is born and everything changes. Although the Host knew that the Son of Man was to come to earth to save humanity and conquer the Dragon, the way He was treated on earth often led members of the Host, especially Michael, to doubt whether or not Jesus' life would mark the defeat of the Dragon, and his hold on humanity...

"So many sacrifices had been made, but in the end, they were justified. Every prophet's word was confirmed, every promise fulfilled at last. For man was finally free from bondage, and though the Dragon would surely unleash his wrath upon them until he was bound himself, the Redeemer had given them the means to fight back against the evil of a fallen world. For every believer that he slew, ten more would rise against him, proclaiming the resurrection of their risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Until one day, the King of Kings would return in power and in glory at the command of the Most High. And I, the Archangel Michael, would be there at his side."

- Archangels: The Fall, Book 3
(Commenting on Jesus' resurrection and defeat of Lucifer, and the implications for humanity)

Book 3 concludes the story with Jesus' resurrection. The power of Jesus' resurrection is depicted on many levels. On one level, His resurrection meant that humanity now had a sure way to overcome the influence of sin. By trusting in Jesus, the One without sin and the chosen Son of God, humans would no longer be slaves to sin (or Lucifer), but would be free to live their lives the way God originally intended (in accordance with His will). On another level, the resurrection renewed the faith of Michael (and probably other members of the Host), who may have felt confused and defeated when Jesus died, and Lucifer appeared to had won. Now seeing the fullness of God's plan for humanity, His beloved creation, Michael was infused with a type of strength from and faith in the Lord he had never felt before...

The end. As with Archangels: the Saga, I would recommend reading this trilogy. Until next time, stay blessed and speekonit...

Click here to read the series online.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Fruitfulness of Falling Back

"People aren't confused by the gospel. They're confused by us. Jesus is the only way to God, but we are not the only way to Jesus. This world does not need my tie, my hoodie, or my denomination of the bible. They just need Jesus. We can be passionate about what we believe, but we can't strap ourselves to the gospel because we're slowing it down. Jesus is going to save the world, but maybe the best thing we can do, is just get out of the way."

- Various voices
"What This World Needs"
From "The Altar And The Door" by Casting Crowns

"I want to be Your hands and feet/
I want to live a life that leads/
To see You set the captive free/
Until the whole world hears/
And I pray that they will see/
More of you and less of me/
Lord I want my life to be/
The song you sing"

- Casting Crown
"Until The Whole World Hears"

Peace and blessings,

Wow God is truly amazing! For the longest I have been grappling with a particular issue, and it seems like recently, I've received a level of clarity regarding the situation that I have never had before. This is not to say that I've "arrived" or "figured it out," because (1) there's always something I don't understand or need to learn regarding my faith and (2) I know better than to assume that my interpretation of anything i'm not clear about is the "best" one. With that said, here are my thoughts on the clarity I feel I have received recently, and how it contributes to both my understanding of my relationship with God and with others.

The development of my Christian faith (in particular from my undergraduate years until now) has been interesting, in that the more I learn about Jesus and what His life meant not just to me but to humanity as a whole, I also learn about how many injustices have been perpetrated by people in the name of Christianity. The more i'm drawn to Jesus' love and try to understand what it really means to live out this love, the more i'm bothered by those who perpetuate hate, also in the name of Christianity.

While in Cambridge, the pastor of the church I attended gave us a vivid illustration that summed up the life of a Christian. He referred to the structure of a cross, and how it consists of two simple lines (or sticks or whatever, lol). One is vertical and the other is horizontal. The vertical reflects our relationship with God, and the horizontal reflects our relationship with others. Both relationships were important to Christ, with His relationship to God being first and foremost (of course Jesus had a lightweight "unfair" advantage given the whole 100% man and 100% God thing, lol). For us who follow Christ, we are also called to both relationships, with the relationship to God coming first.

Since that message, I guess you could say that I've been paying more attention to how I am being obedient to God with regards to both of my relationships. I've realized that during the times when I'm "dropping the ball" with regards to the horizontal aspect (e.g., having that holier-than-thou/judgmental steez going on), it's because I've been having so much "tunnel-vision" with regards to the vertical relationship (i.e., what would God say about this person or behavior), that I'm missing the big picture. Interestingly, my behavior during these times resembles those of the pharisees during the time of Jesus' life (although I'm not generalizing and assume that all pharisees were resistant to Jesus' teachings). Appropriately enough, for now on I remind myself to make sure I don't approach a particular issue or situation with a "pharisee" mindset but with the mind and heart of Christ.

Enter Casting Crowns. Through these quotes, I believe that God has showed me how and why many people either dislike Christianity, don't trust it, or don't have the time for it. When looking throughout the course of history, mass killings and slavery have been perpetuated in the name of Christianity. Currently, there are Christian groups who are either extremely judgmental, show hate to those they should be loving, or both. My experiences (first and second hand) have provided evidence for the notion that people are not so much resistant to Jesus as they are to people who do certain "un_Christ-like" things in the name of Christianity. In these quotes, Casting Crowns (and this is a huge theme throughout their music) is stressing the importance of "falling back" so people can move toward Christ. In other words, I'm becoming more convinced that the reason why many non-Christ-like things have been perpetrated in the name of Christianity is because we show more of ourselves and less of Christ. Although we belong to Christ, we are still human, and therefore we have to constantly keep certain tendencies in check, as they can not only minimize the effectiveness of Christ in us, but also can result in us treating people unfairly, turning them away from Christ as opposed to pointing them towards Christ.

When real change happens, when the gospel is spread and Jesus' love is made manifest, I have noticed that it is during the times when I fall back and let Jesus be Jesus. Sometimes I want to "steer the ship" so to speak and during these times it's like i'm literally telling Jesus "chill JC, I got this one" or "let me handle this." We need to first fall back so Jesus can use us how He see fits, not the other way around. The more we humble ourselves and fall back, the more Jesus guides us in our interactions with and love for others. It is then that we as followers of Christ are truly living out our purpose in life, which is summed up in the Ten Commandments, and is the overall theme of the bible: To love God and to love others.

What do you think? Take care, stay blessed, and speekonit...

A Few Thoughtz: Archangels: The Saga

Peace and blessings,

Given that the last time I discussed a Christian comic on the blog was about a year ago (see my posts on Ted Dekker's "Black," "Red," and "White" in October 2008), I figure I'm beyond overdue to get back on my Christian comic book grind. I've recently found a few other Christian comics and comic book companies, and I plan on reading and discussing those comics in the near future. The topic of today is Patrick Scott's Archangels: The Saga (1995). The story is best characterized as good vs. evil, but what I like about the approach to this battle that distinguishes it from other comics (the good vs. evil theme is common to most superhero-type comics) is that the battle takes place on the spiritual battle ground. Namely, the "major" battle is not one fought by humans in the story per se, but between the heavenly angels (referred to as "the Host") looking over them and the demons/evil angels seeking to destroy them.

"Destroy" in this sense takes on two meanings. In one sense, there are times where the devil's angels succeed in "influencing" people to make decisions that leads to their literal death. In another sense, and more importantly, the devil's angels are working around the clock by trying to influence people to make decisions that turns our attention away from God, the complete manifestation of this turning away resulting in a form of spiritual death. In both cases the devil's angels are fighting on behalf of causing and perpetuating death, and the Host are fighting on behalf of abundant, purposeful, and eternal life.

The story centers around Justin, who, after losing many important people in his life (e.g., parents, friends), decides he has nothing to live for and is seriously contemplating suicide. In a demonstration laid out by Jesus in Like 15:1-7 about the shepherd who leaves his 99 sheep who are "in His care" (quotes are mine) to go find the one that is lost (i.e., "not in His care"), an angel is sent to Justin's aid to prevent him from making a fatal decision. However realizing that the devil's angels are aggressively trying to "broker" this deal (i.e., succeed in influencing Justin to take his life), Cameron (Justin's angel) receives help from his "patnas" from the Host, and a huge battle ensues between angels on both sides.

In sum, there are three things I really enjoyed about the approach of this comic book that I wanted to highlight.

#1: The importance of our choices. The series (which is nine issues) does a good job in my opinion of demonstrating the consequences of our choices. By showing the angels' reactions to the various decisions made by the characters throughout the story, the series serves as a reminder that the choices we make often have consequences that reach farther than our awareness or comprehension.

#2: God's concern with the "minor" details of our lives. The fact that there's a whole battle going on over one person is a prime example of God's love for us. He cares about every decision, struggle, and detail of our lives, regardless of how big or small we make think it is at the time. Talk about some great news...

#3: The "relatable-ness" (yeah, I made it up) of the Host. I really liked how they depicted the heavenly angels as having concerns and struggles that we as humans deal with. It was interesting that much of Cameron's determination to protect Justin stemmed from the guilt and remorse he felt over the death of Daniel, someone he felt he was not able to protect. So it's like Cameron's on a redemptive journey in trying to save Justin.

What do you think? If you've read it, what are your thoughts on it? If you haven't read it, are you considering checking it out? Take care, God bless, and speekonit...

Click here to read the series online.

A Few (Quick) Thoughtz: The Shock Doctrine

Peace and blessings,

What do the Bolivia, China, Indonesia, Iraq, Poland, Russia, and the U.S. (New York & New Orleans) in common?

According to Naomi Klein (2007), each of them, at some particular time and in some particular form, have been hit with what she refers as the "Shock Doctrine." Building off of the work and principles of CIA-affiliated/supported Psychiatrist Ewen Cameron, Klein argues that each of the above countries have experienced debilitating shocks, all in the name of "economic progress" and "stability." Just as Ewen Cameron once believed that through intense procedures of sensory deprivation and other techniques that he could "wipe an individual's slate clean" and "build them up again from scratch" (my quotations, not his), Klein argues that this principle was applied in each of these countries. Before I proceed, I want to make it clear that I am aware of my lack of understanding of economics as a discipline (I still have "memories" from the Econ classes I took in undergrad, lol). These are just my opinions and in no way are they meant as an indictment of the discipline per se. The following is just my interpretation of Klein's interpretation of a particular type of economic practice (i.e., the "Shock Doctrine.")

One of the things Klein points out about the Shock Doctrine is that in each of the countries in which it was implemented, it's implementation was preceded by some kind of "shocking event." The event could be political (a coup or new election), natural (Tsunami, Katrina), military-related (War on Terror), and so forth. The idea is that times of rapid change, confusion, and devastation are "ripe" opportunities to push through an economic agenda that if pushed through in "normal, stable" conditions, would likely be met with much opposition.

Two of the primary characteristics of this economic agenda is that it includes limited to no government intervention/regulation, and relatedly, it is "purely capitalistic" in that privatization is key. For instance, a common theme in the non-U.S. countries hit with the Shock Doctrine is that a primary goal of its implementation is to sell off the assets owned by that particular country to private, and in many cases, outside (foreign, multinational) corporations. This often results in major profits for the few who either work for or are "in good" with such corporations and massive employment for a significant portion of everyone else. In the U.S. (9-11 in New York and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans), this primary goal manifested itself with regards to a select number of major contractors taking up most of the major rebuilding efforts, leaving many people who were affected by the catastrophe unable to participate in rebuilding the rebuilding efforts.

Another interesting point she addresses is how the theoretical "weight" behind the Shock Doctrine came from Milton Friedman, and the school of thought he "groomed" amongst his former students and associates (referred to as the "Chicago Boys" or the "Chicago Mafia"). In most of the cases that the Shock Doctrine was implemented, it was either proposed or managed (in some capacity) by a "student" of his idea of capitalism free from government involvement pursuing privatization as if it's an end in itself (i.e., worthy or pursuit in its own right). Now I'm not hating on privatization in general, but I tend to believe that too much of anything (except Jesus' love of course, lol!) can begin to yield detrimental consequences.

These are only a few quick thoughts on the book, as I don't have the book with me to expand on any point mentioned in more detail. All throughout reading it, one thing kept coming to mind. Out of the many warnings the bible gives with regards to how to treat others and how to live, one warning, in my opinion, rings true time and time again: The love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Now I'm not saying the perpetrators of these Shock Doctrines as identified by Klein are evil, or even that they even love money. I'm just saying that as I read Klein's book, I became more aware of the ever-present dangers of putting things (e.g., money) over people. On that note, I'll close with the words from a rapper Styles P, whose line in a song a few years go sticks to me to this day, and remains one of the most relevant lines I've ever heard. It goes something like

"...[the love of]money is the root of evil/how can we say in God we trust [referencing the printing on U.S. money]/knowing what it do to people/"

What do you think? Have you read the book? If so, what are your thoughts? Can you think of any other instances where things (esp. money) are prioritized over people? Until next time, stay blessed and speekonit...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Friday Night Life

"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,'
declares the LORD."
-Isaiah 55:8

"I should have seen that car. I would have been in great position to see the car."

Peace and blessings,

These words kept repeating in my head after the weird series of events that took place while I was walking home last Friday night, 9/25. Although one purpose of this post is to attempt, as accurately as possible, the events that took place that evening and the cognitive and emotional state I was in after those events, this post serves another, more important purpose. Putting this recollection in typed words marks my "doing away" with the issue, confirming what friends and family have been telling me to do once I told them about what happened. After reading this, some, if not all of you may think that I'm making too big a deal about what happened. However regardless of your personal take on the matter, I urge you to keep an open mind about the matter, because to me at the time, what I am about to tell you was a big deal.

Typically when I go home, I take the 1 or 1r bus and get off on international (E. 14th st.) and 10th ave. From there, I walk up 11th ave. to E. 18th street and make a right until I reach my apartment. On average, I take this route 3-4 times a week. For the past week or two, I would see this little dog (emphasis on little, lol) strolling on 11th ave once I cross E. 17th street, so a block from my destination, which is E. 18th st. Every time I would see that dog, I would think to myself,"let me walk on the opposite side of the street of that dog, and I hope he or she bothers me." With the exception of the dog I had while growing up (RIP Rocky, miss you man!), I don't like dogs, let alone trust them.

However, on this day I approached the situation differently. I told myself that the preoccupation with this dog is all in my head, because of the times I have seen him or her in the past week or two, he or she did not give me any problems when I walked past. As a result, I decided to not trip on the dog because there was no reason to suggest that he or she would trip on me.

But it turns out I was wrong, lol. When I initially walked past the dog things seemed good, so I proceeded as usual. However as I got closer to E. 18th street, I heard some paws pattering behind me. Best believe, the dog had begun chasing after me! After I turned around and stepped toward the dog, telling him or her to back up, he or she barked, and then stopped and ceased to approach me. As I proceeded to walk towards E. 18th street, I began laughing to myself, thinking "as soon as I made up my mind that I was not going to trip on this dog, it decided to bother me." I then looked back at the dog to make sure he or she did not try to chase after me again. And then it happened...

As soon as I turned my head around to make sure the dog was not coming after me, I heard a loud crash. As I turned my head back around, I saw a car at the corner of E. 18th street and 11th ave begin to flip over, eventually falling on its side, with the driver's side door pinned to the ground, and the passenger's side door sticking up in the air. I immediately ran to the car to see if the driver and potential passenger(s) were ok. At this time I pulled out my cell phone so I could call 9-11. When I reached the driver (the only person in the car), I asked her if she was ok. Positioned towards the ground (which was where the driver's side was), she indicated that she was ok, she didn't know what happened, and she started hitting the passenger door (which because of the way the car was positioned was at the top) saying that she couldn't out. As I started trying to open the passenger door (to no avail), more neighbors came outside to help. I told someone to call 9-11 while I continue trying to open the door (still to no avail). As others started to help, one neighbor noticed that the girl may be able to get out from the back door (the type that in some SUVs or mini-SUVs serves as the trunk area. In what seemed like a few minutes (the cops must have been already nearby as it is a heavily-patrolled area), the cops came, made sure the woman was not hurt, and opened the back door so she could get out. Thank God she came out unharmed!

Now back to the words that were going through my head after I left the scene, and the words that I began this post with. I felt like because I walk up 11th ave 3-4 times a week, and because I wear glasses now, I would have got a great look at the type of car that hit the driver. The person who hit her did not stop, and the main question amongst the neighbors and the cops was "did anyone see the car?" Given that (a) I was walking in the direction of the accident , (b) how close I was to the scene, and (c) that I was the first one on the scene once the car flipped over, I concluded that I would have seen the car if I had not turned my head to check on the dog seconds before the collision took place. Me not seeing the car because I turned to look at the dog bothered me as I was running across the street to make sure the woman was ok, and I was thinking that since I "dropped the ball" and could not see the car that hit her, I could at least "redeem" myself by getting the passenger door open and helping her to safety. After I was unsuccessful on both fronts, I really started to feel like my role in the whole situation was extremely minimal at best and negligible/unhelpful at worst. Then I started thinking to myself that if she would have got hurt or God forbid if she would have died, then I would have really been down on myself for not doing more.

As evident in many of my other posts, I am a firm believer that there are countless times when God "structures" things and situations to where certain people are at certain places at certain times to serve certain purposes. Sometimes when I feel like I am in the midst of one of those "situations," I feel like I have an idea on why I was "put" in that situation at the appointed time, and what my role was. Other times I am not so sure. What took place last Friday night was definitely one of those "other times."

The main questions that kept going through my mind were:

(1) Why did that dog have to bother me that day?

(2) Why was I not able to see the car?

(3) Why was I not able to help her out the car?

(4) What was the purpose for me being there? What role was I supposed to/did I fill?

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, friends and family has helped me better make sense of the situation, and have helped me view the events and my role in them from different perspectives. In addition, I have been reminded of the above passage from Isaiah, which reiterates the fact that in life there are some things that happen and things we experience that, although we may have questions about, we will not gain the answer to (at least not in this lifetime). In those situations, the only thing we can do is learn from them, move one, and know that whatever God had planned out for that situation, is in the best interests of all those involved.

Until next time, stay blessed and speekonit...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Holding it Down: Earnest Graham

Peace and blessings,

As someone who is an avid comic book reader, I'm always looking for new, creating stories to read. In particular, I have been looking for more Christian comic book artists and Graphic novelists to read. Among the ones I've found (which I will include more information about in another e-mail), I came across Earnest Graham, a graphic artist and a Priest, whose current work involves translating biblical stories into graphic novel form. I've included his graphical depiction of the parable of the sower, so you can get a sense of his approach. More info on his work can be found on his
  • blog.
  • Furthermore, you can see his graphical depictions of
  • Jesus' parables and the book of James here.

  • I think using the comic book and graphic novel formats to illuminate the truth of God's word is a fantastic idea, as it has the potential to speak to a wide variety of people. It also provides the opportunity to illuminate these truths in a way that is relevant to the interests, issues, and concerns people have today. I recommend everyone check them out and if interested, he has pdfs of his work available to use for ministry purposes (just make sure to give him credit).

    What do you think? Is the comic book/graphic novel format a good way to reach people who may not be keen to the more traditional methods of delving into the bible? Why or why not? Until next time, take care, stay blessed, and speekonit...

    Verse of the Moment: Sho Baraka

    Peace and blessings,

    I came across this line while listening to a Mix Tape by a Sho Baraka, and thought I'd share it because it's sick! The free mixtape that this track came from, as well more info on him and his lyrical comrades the 116 Click, can be found at their record label,
  • Reach Records.

  • Stay blessed, encouraged, and speekonit..

    "Other brothers call themselves(?) God they just fake/Jesus come back all white Bronco like OJ/To smash all defendants/you guilty not acquitted/no lies/he did it/and the glove/he fits it/all for good purpose/He do it for redemption/and to prove His power over those who dismiss Him/"

    - Sho Baraka
    Freestyle to Ambassador's "Get You Open"
    Off the Barakology Mixtape

    Genuine Connection of Just a Coincidence?

    Peace and blessings,

    August 28th, around 9am: I park in downtown Berkeley to attend a staff meeting at a nearby cafe. I put a certain amount of money into the meter, thinking that I would be done with the meter and back to my car by the time the time expired. I was wrong, lol. I received a parking ticket.

    Same day, around noon: I park near the building that I work in (I normally would park in the building's parking lot, but at the time it was full. I put a certain amount of money into the meter, thinking that I would be done with what I needed to do in the building and be back at my car before the time expired. Determined to not have what happened this morning happen again, I left the building with what I believed was enough time to get to the car before the time expired. Again, I was wrong, lol. As I'm walking to my car, I noticed the meter officer leaving my car. I stop him to tell him that I'm here so I can move the car. He told me that there's nothing he could do once the ticket has been processed. Thus I received another parking ticket.

    The question posed in the title of this post has less to do with whether or not the two tickets are connected or a coincidence, and more to do with whether or not the two tickets are connected to what I read before leaving the house that morning, or if the whole thing is just a coincidence. That morning, the devotional reading was the book of Job. Today marked the first day of a series of devotionals around the life of Job.

    What was going through my mind that morning was not only the extent of Job's suffering and trust in God in the midst of his suffering, but how important Job's story was at the time (and now) to people's understanding of the nature of God and of our relationship with him. Basically, there was a prevailing idea at the time that if you're living good it's because you are "good" in God's sight, and thus He was blessing you. If you are not living good, then God is punishing or passing judgment on you. The book of Job changed that, as it focused on the suffering of a righteous man whose life was pleasing in God's sight. The book of Job showed that both the righteous and unrighteous experiences trials in world, and that people's relationship with God (and Jesus) is not based on how good one's life is at the moment, but on our appreciation of and reverence for how good God is ALL the time.

    With regards to the question posed in the title, my position is clear. I believe that there is a connection between me beginning to read the story of Job and receiving two parking tickets on the same day (for one, I rarely drive to work and two, the last time I received multiple tickets in the same day It was due to me taking the GRE in 2005). Although I know there is no way my frustration with getting two parking tickets could hold a candle to a tenth of what Job went through, I think that the moral of the story is the same: no matter what the day may throw at us, we must always praise God and be thankful for His love for us.

    What do you think? Have you recently had day or series of days when nothing seemed to go right, or something went wrong and really frustrated you? How did you respond? Take care, God bless, and speekonit...

    Sunday, August 30, 2009

    Hunger Pains

    Peace and blessings,

    As a child, I remember watching "the Lost Boys" and the "Fright Night" movies, which there about vampires. Initially, I put vampires into the same category as I put masked serial killers who can never seem to die (e.g., Michael Meyers and Jason), terrible creatures that come from beneath the ground to eat people (Tremors), and dolls and puppets that can talk (Chucky, Puppet Master). As a child, I viewed each of these "creepy" things as nothing more than the product of movie producers thinking of new ways to scare people, and to create horror movies. However, as the creatures, dolls, and "you can't kill me" serial killers tended to lose popularity over time, or at the minimum had to rely on multiple movies with the same killer (e.g., the Halloween, Jason, and Chuck sequels), vampires seemed to get more popular over time.

    Not only that, but the way vampires were depicted continued to change over time. From the Blade and Evolution movies to the most recent Twilight Series and TV show True Blood, there seems to be an increasing interest in humanizing vampires, and showing different sides of them other than giving in to the hunger. For instance, Blade was part vampire, but chose to protect humans from vampires, and had to constantly take a serum that suppressed his hunger, so that he would himself would not turn into the very thing he had dedicated his life towards fighting against. Moreover, the first Twilight movie focused on a family of vampires who, through willpower and discipline, were able to curb their hunger for human blood, and survive on animal blood. Lastly, some of the vampires in True Blood are mistreated by humans from what seems to be a religious organization (I've only watched one episode, so my understanding of the show's premise and some of the details is not fully clear).

    When I saw Underworld: Evolution for the first time (I saw it before I saw the first evolution movie), I found myself really interested in the storyline, and the history of the vampires. I started thinking about what it was about vampires that made them so popular? Not only are there movies about vampires, but there's vampire attire, and people even host vampire parties. So it seems like there's a real life vampire culture. I believe that reason why vampires are so popular, is because of what they potentially reveal about the human condition. From my perspective, this human condition refers specifically to the life that is enslaved to sin, and thus controlled by "the hunger."

    For one, vampires (as depicted in films) have no real purpose in life, other to feed for survival. Even when they choose to order their lives around another goal or purpose, much of who they are is a function of how they handle their hunger. Vampires hunger for human blood, and therefore the most efficient and satisfying way to get it is by biting into live human flesh. Similarly, the bible clearly demonstrates the consequences of living a life enslaved by sin. One's thoughts, actions, and heart is held captive by a hunger, not for human blood, but for things of the flesh and of the world. Since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, we all have "acquired" the hunger for things of the flesh, and for things that while seem good at the time, ultimately lead to our destruction. What matters is how we handle that hunger, whether we give it over to the One who died to save us from our hunger, or we hold onto it and choose to live by it.

    In addition to the hunger, or blood lust, vampires have to reside in the dark, because exposure to light will kill them. I find this characteristic of vampires to be the most interesting, as it gives more meaning to the first characteristic. In other words, as long as one is enslaved to sin and thus lives for the hunger, he or she cannot tolerate, let alone embrace the light. To live in darkness is to be ruled and defined by the hunger, so it makes sense that Vampires would avoid the light at all costs, given that light casts out darkness. Throughout the bible followers of Christ are described as being a light, doing the work of Christ so that Christ's heart and mind shines in and through us. I think the vampire mythos does a good job of depicting the relationship between light and darkness, and the extent to which our humanity hangs in the balance.

    What do you think? What do you like and/or dislike about the vampire mythos. Why? Stay blessed, take care and speekonit...

    Tuesday, August 25, 2009

    Heavy Rotation: Nichole Nordeman and Bebo Norman

    "I want to leave a legacy/How will they remember me?/Did I choose to love?/Did I point to you enough to make a mark on things/I want to leave an offering/Child of mercy and grace/Who blessed your name/Unapologetically/And leave that kind of legacy"

    - Nichole Nordeman
    "Legacy" from "Recollection: The Best of Nichole Nordeman"

    "I will lift my eyes/To the Maker/Of the mountains I can't climb/I will lift my eyes/To the Calmer/Of the oceans raging wild/I will lift my eyes/To the Healer/Of the hurt I hold inside/I will lift my eyes/Lift my eyes/To you"

    -Bebo Norman
    "I will lift my eyes" from "Between the Dreaming and the Coming True"

    Peace and blessings,

    Since I've taken somewhat of a hiatus from hip-hop and have been listening to contemporary music lately (however, I'll be back on the hip-hop tip real soon because I miss it!), I've been exposed to many different musicians from a variety of backgrounds, including country, alternative, worship, and so forth. What's been interesting is that the more I listen to the music, the more I've noticed that although the music is Christian, each artist's music tend to focus on a unique aspect of the Christian faith. In other words, the more I open myself up to Christian artists, whether contemporary or hip-hop, the more I'm convinced and reminded that God speaks to each of us differently, and as a result, each of us relate to and worship Him differently. One artist may have an album focused primarily on relaying the love of Christ to others, while another artist may have an able focused on embracing redemption after falling from Grace.

    The two quotes above are from the choruses of songs that I have in heavy rotation. Furthermore, each of these songs speaks to a particular aspect of my relationship with God that I have been thinking about lately. One aspect pertains to the type of legacy I want to leave behind when I got to be with Christ. I've been blessed with a wife, family, friends, gifts, and opportunities, but what matters is what I do with them. The second aspect pertains to me constantly having to remind myself that God has everything covered. Where my humanity is limit-prone His divinity is limitless.

    What about you? What song do you like to listen to that speaks to an aspect of your relationship with God? Take care, God bless, and speekonit...

    A Few Thoughtz: The Color Spectrum of the Lantern Corps

    Peace and blessings,

    Although I'm primarily a Marvel person, I'm starting to branch out and read comics from different publishers and independent artists. For a while, I told myself (why I was so stubborn, I'm not quite sure) that I was a Marvel person, not a DC person. However, the pointlessness of that stance has been made obvious to me, as I've realized that I'm not a Marvel person, but a good story person. If there's a comic book story out there that does a great job of portraying the highs and lows of humanity, and our need to strive towards that which is good, then I want to read it.

    Recently, I started reading comic books on the Green Lantern. He's someone I've been interested in learning more about for a while, but in preparation for the "Blackest Night" story arc (more on that coming soon), I figured now is the best time to familiarize myself with the Green Lantern. I recenty just got finished reading the "Revenge of the Green Lanterns" and the "Rage of the Red Lanterns." I have to say that the Rage of the Red Lanterns is arguably the best comic book story arc I've read all summer. Disclaimer to Green Lantern fans: I'm new to the Lantern Corps mythology so if I get something wrong, my apologies.

    The purpose of this post is not to summarize the stories in these comic books, or to add my two cents on why I think the Green Lantern's (Hal Jordan)'s shacking up with various women is problematic, lol. I want to talk about the breadth of the Lantern corps. Up until recently, I thought the Green Lantern corps was the only corps responsible for the welfare of the universe. As the "universe police," various members of the corps are assigned to different sectors of the universe, making sure people are not breaking the law, and that the lives of living creatures on various planets is valued and protected. Their strength (which is represented in their ring), is will-power, allowing them to create things weapons and perform certain feats at will. They are the good guys, upholding justice throughout the universe.

    If the corps was to stop with the Green Lanterns, I would still read the stories, as the history and dynamics of their powers and commitment to justice provide interesting conflicts and stories in themselves. However it does not stop there. There are
  • other Lantern Corps
  • throughout the universe, and each relate to each other in a particular. Below is a list of the additional corps, with their "power" in parentheses:

    (1) Yellow (fear)

    (2) Red (rage)

    (3) Black (death)

    (4) Blue (hope)

    (5) Star Sapphires (love)

    (6) Indigo Tribe (unknown)

    (7) Orange (avarice)

    What's interesting is that each corps believes that their particular emotional power plays the most important role in human behavior. For instance, The Yellow Corps generally believe that it's fear that makes the world go round, whereas the Blue Lantern Corps believe that the key to humanity is hope. The Blue Corps also claim that hope is the most powerful of the emotional powers, which makes for another interesting topic of discussion. The Blue also drains the power of the Yellow rings, but accelerates the power of the Green rings. Interesting isn't it?

    What also strikes me about these different corps is that membership is an absolute thing, such that depending on the choices one makes and the extent to which one is able/unable to manage and coordinate his or her emotions, one can "lose" a ring and "acquire" another ring of a different color. For example, Sinestro, the leader of the Yellow Corps, used to be one of the best Green Lanterns to serve the corps, and is responsible for training Hal Jordan, who currently holds that title for the Green Lantern Corps. Another example comes the "Rage of the Red Lanterns" story. A member of the Green Lantern corps, due to violating the principles of her corps, had her ring taken from her. However, the path she had started on (which led to her actions that resulted in her losing her Green ring) "led" her to a Red ring, before being presented with the opportunity to "re-acquire" a Green ring. LOL, it's a long story, and you should read it to get the unabridged version.

    I'll probably continue posting on this topic in the near future, as I will not be able to cover everything I wanted to cover in one post. I just wanted to get some initial thoughts I had about the Lantern Corps out there, as I think the mythology behind the Lantern Corps and the colors reveal some interesting "truths" about the human condition, and how emotions are related and coordinated. I don't agree with everything, but there are some general ideas from the Lantern Corps that I think are useful in helping us better understand one another.

    What do you think? Do you read and Green Lantern? If so, why? Which emotion do you think you (a) utilize the most? (b) have the best handle on? (c) struggle with the most?

    An unexpected Visitor

    Peace and blessings,

    Last week, I was at a cafe getting some work done. In particular, I was typing up notes from articles that I plan on using to prepare for my oral exams this fall. I was pretty productive for the first two hours, so I decided to take a mini break and read some comics at a neighboring comic book store. I planned it to where I would have a good two hours after the break to get some more work done. After returning to the cafe from my break, however, things did not go as planned. I basically spent the next 1.5 hours struggling to understand an article that I was reading, only to decide that I was not going to include it in my notes. And for those who know me, they know that a huge "tick" for me is setting aside a set amount of time to get stuff done, and that stuff not getting done in that allotted time.

    Once home, I told my wife (verbally, and also by the downed look on my face), about how disappointed I was that I was unable to be productive those last two hours. She assured me that I was still productive even though I was not pleased with the outcome, but that assurance went through one ear and out the other. Today was also the day that my wife was going to play Taboo with the neighbors two doors down from us. I told her as she left that after I eat, I'll stop by. As I'm making my salad, still kicking myself for blowing it at the cafe earlier, my wife comes back in the apartment to get something, and says "I brought a guest with me." Given my pity party, the only thing I wanted to do was eat and chill. Obviously, God had other plans...

    A little 9-year-old boy came in, who I've never met before, and immediately started talking to me. Once my wife told him I was her husband, it was if he had the green light to ask me a ton of questions, lol. Initially, I'm thinking to myself that (1) it's late, (2) I'm hungry and (3) I'm still upset about earlier, so the last thing I want is for some kid that I don't know, to be in my kitchen telling about his favorite video games. As established in the previous paragraph however, God had other plans...

    Once I realized that this little dude's hear to stay, I took more of an interest in what he was talking about. After talking about video games, he asked if he could play my Nintendo Wii, because he loved that system. After talking a little more, he said something to me that, while on the surface may seem like an ordinary complement, but I took it as slightly something else. He said that "you're cool" at first and then a few minutes later, said "you adults are cool" (referring to my wife and I). It struck me because I think at that point, it became clear that him coming over was exaclty what I needed to get out of the mini funk I was in, and to redirect my focus back to God. I love how children are so open and honest with people, and speak their minds. Although I'm glad he thought that I was cool, I don't think that my approach to him prior to that comment warranted that statement. I initially wanted him to leave me to my salad and moping, and thus after receiving the compliment I felt a little guilty.

    I eventually realized that him showing up was God's way of reminding me not to get bogged down by the little things in life, and not to let minor things have a major impact on how I interact with and show Christ's love to others. As one of the pastor's I listen to on podcast says, God reveals things about Himself through people, which is why reflecting Christ in our relationships with others (those we know and those we don't know) is so important. I'm just glad I realized the "bigger picture" before the boy. If I didn't, then feeling bad for not being productive at the cafe would have paled in comparison to how bad I would have felt for having the opportunity to reciprocate a 9-year-old's generosity and "coolness" but instead chose not to.

    What do you think? Have you ever had an experience similar to this, or to the one I posted about
  • on the same topic
  • nearly two years ago? Take care, stay blessed, and speekonit...

    Tuesday, August 18, 2009

    Things to Pray For: Women's Rights in Patriarchal Societies

    Peace and blessings,

    Before I begin, I want to say that I am well aware of how women in many countries throughout the world are denied a voice and basic rights. Furthermore, it is an issue that I have yet to pray about on a consistent basis, but that changes now. Recently hearing about how
  • Shiite Husbands in Afghanistan can legally starve their wives
  • has reminded me of how there are many things I take for granted living in the United States. With that said, women are still oppressed in this country, and we still have much work to do. But knowing that a man has the legally-mandated power to deprive a woman of food is beyond disheartening.

    I do not mean to disrespect another's culture, or to pass judgment prematurely, but starving one's wife because she does not want to have sex with you is wrong, point blank. I pray for the women who are affected by this law (and all women who are oppressed), that God will protect and liberate them. I also pray that God will change the hearts of the men in the society who support and enforce this and other oppressive laws. Through the way He ministered to women, Jesus showed us that to love someone is to cherish and honor the whole person, and with that understanding that no one "holds power" over the other. I pray that the message of Jesus spreads in Afghanistan such that husbands treat their wives, and in essence men treat women, the way God designed for them to be treated.

    What do you think? Stay blessed, take care, and speekonit...

    Monday, August 17, 2009

    Some Inspirational News

    Peace and blessings,

    Here are a few news links, courtesy of
  • K-Love:

  • (1)
  • A church plays a huge role in reducing the local crime rate

  • (2)
  • Christians in Iraq launch a radio station

  • (3)
  • Liberal Christians helping Obama with health care issue

  • Any news you can find that highlights the positive and encouraging aspects of our nature, please send it this way! Until next time, stay blessed, encouraged, and speekonit...

    The Christian Mafia?

    Peace and blessings,

    A secret group of powerful and wealthy individuals seek to rule the country. No, this is not the opening lines for a new movie, but it's apparently the description of a super-secretive group called the "Family." Jeff Sharlett, a reporter who was able to gain access to the group, wrote a book called "The Family," where he lays out their origins and principles. Click here to hear him talking about
  • Jeff Sharlet talking about"The Family."

  • Aside from the fact that
  • another name for the group is the "Christian Mafia,"
  • I am without a doubt "scared" that such a group as this. The first thing that bothers me about this group is that they seem to be distorting the bible, arguing that Jesus' gospel is not about loving, supporting, and advocating for the poor and voiceless, but about accumulating power and wealth as a means to spreading "the gospel." Anyone who reads the bible (Christian or not) with at the minimum an open heart, would know that not to be true.

    The second thing that bothers me about this group is that they provide further support for the idea that historically ("The Family" apparently began in the 1930s during the great depression) and in many present instances, Christianity has done more to harm humanity than to help it. Further, they claimed to be doing this harm in Jesus' name. By working to improve my relationship with Christ, I have been able to strengthen my relationship with Christ by realizing that there is a difference between accurately understanding Christ's teachings, and interpreting the bible in a way that suits one's fancy. It seems clear that this "Family" is doing the latter.

    I don't see how if we truly loved God with all our heart and loved our neighbors as ourselves (the 2 commandments that sum up the 10 commandments, and the 2 commandments that Jesus stressed the most), we could believe that wealth and power is the way to spreading Christ's message. I pray that for those of us who know that loving God and loving others is the only way to reach others and draw them to Christ, our lives will disprove any and all distortions of the bible that may pop up.

    What do you think? Take care, God bless, and speekonit...

    Sunday, August 02, 2009

    Scripture of the Day

    Peace and blessings,

    The scripture that's currently on the brain is from 1 Chronicles 21:18-24 (NIV). It has to do with the importance of authentic praise and worship, and how we should not offer up anything to God (e.g., gifts, money, time) if it does not cost us anything. I took it to mean that anything we do for God has to mean something to us, in order for it to mean anything to God. Until next time, stay encouraged and speekonit...

    "Then the angel of the LORD ordered Gad to tell David to go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 19 So David went up in obedience to the word that Gad had spoken in the name of the LORD.

    While Araunah was threshing wheat, he turned and saw the angel; his four sons who were with him hid themselves. 21 Then David approached, and when Araunah looked and saw him, he left the threshing floor and bowed down before David with his face to the ground.

    David said to him, "Let me have the site of your threshing floor so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped. Sell it to me at the full price."

    Araunah said to David, "Take it! Let my lord the king do whatever pleases him. Look, I will give the oxen for the burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for the grain offering. I will give all this."

    But King David replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing."

    DWYL: Rapper Edition

    Peace and blessings,

    For the past two summers, I have been blessed with the opportunity to see some of my favorite Christian hip-hop artists, who make up the group the 116 click, perform in concert. This year, their theme was "Don't Waste Your Life." To this end, they put out a series of video commercials for their tour, a couple of which are below. Also below is a video sermon by John Piper, which summarizes what it means to not waste one's life, and that served as the "intro" for the concert. More information on the tour, their music, and their ministry can be found at
  • Reach Records.

  • Check out the videos and share your thoughts. Take care, God bless, and speekonit...

    The Sin of Silence

    “Pride before the fall.”

    - Someone who knew what they were talking about

    “I am going to try living my life with the understanding that when I disobey God, I choose the lesser version of myself.”

    -me, about 10 days ago

    Peace and blessings,

    As part of the application aspect of a bible study I attended about 10 days ago, I wrote down the above words. Since then, I have been trying to remind myself of those words, as well as what they mean for my life and for my relationship with God. Of course, He has an “interesting” way of holding me accountable for those words…

    Lately, God has been working on my conception of sin, and helping me to see that for every sin we are consciously aware of committing, there may be a sin that we do not realize we are committing, “flying under the radar” so to speak. Much of my conception of sin has to do with sins pertaining to thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that we are aware of, and that we “choose” to commit. Of these, I tend to focus more on the sins that are reflected in concrete actions and words. In other words, a significant part of my understanding of sin has to do things I say and do.

    However, lately I feel like God has been showing me that sometimes, not saying or doing something can be just as sinful as saying or doing something. In both cases, I am being disobedient to God. There are times when I feel like I should apologize to someone for something, or to speak up about something. During these times, I tend to go back and forth weighing the pros and cons in my head, trying to analyze the situation. Although there are times when it is best to remain quiet, there are times when I go against my better judgment and remain quiet, ultimately making a situation worse. God has recently been showing me the “ugliness” of this form of disobedience, and the importance for saying something, especially when my pride is trying to “convince me” to remain quite.

    When it comes to apologizing for something I have done to someone that I know was wrong, there’s no real justification for not saying anything. No matter what my pride is telling me, I have to realize that owning up and asking for forgiveness is always better than the alternative. A similar case can be made for situations when we know we should speak up on something, but we refuse not to. Interestingly enough, the reasons for me remaining silent when it is best that I should are qualitatively different from the reasons for me remaining silent when I know I should speak up. What this tells me is that when God tells me to say something or not to say something, His direction is often very clear. It is just up to me to be obedient.

    What do you think? Have you recently been silent about something or a situation that you know you should say something about? Have you recently decided to say something, despite your pride (or fear, or anything else) telling you not to? What was the outcome? How did it make you feel? Until next time, stay blessed and speekonit…

    Monday, July 27, 2009

    Some Inspirational News

    Peace and blessings,

    Here are a few news links, courtesy of
  • K-Love:
  • :

    (1)Obama talks about his constant need for prayer
  • in a recent interview:

  • (2)Two new iphone apps:
  • Purity Ring
  • and
  • A Note to God

  • (3)
  • Chicago churches host farmer's markets
  • and
  • Louisiana church holds "Christ and Creativity" conference

  • Any news you can find that highlights the positive and encouraging aspects of our nature, please send it this way! Until next time, stay blessed, encouraged, and speekonit...

    Scripture of the Day

    "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
    - Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

    Peace and blessings,

    This scripture has been on the brain lately, and is one of my favorite scriptures in the bible. Take care and speekonit...


    “I’m serious/how I’mma laugh at ya’ll?/my heart been broke twice plus fractured ya’ll/
    I had to give to the Master ya’ll/and now, I gotta give it to the masses ya’ll/
    I used to think love was blind too ya’ll/”till I put on my spiritual glasses dawg/”

    -Japhia Life
    Beatmart Recordings: Best of the Submissions vol. 1

    Peace and blessings,

    In February, I decided to finally go and get my eyes tested. I've been meaning to do so for the past couple of years, but never got around to it. At times I would have difficulty seeing signs from a distance while driving, so I figured that the more I put it off, the higher the risk I run of reacting to something too late while behind the wheel. After getting tested it was determined that I was near-sighted, and that I need glasses to help me see things better while driving.

    This post is not about my thoughts on or reactions to getting glasses. Instead, I want to talk what I observed from the optometry clinic, and how I feel that God used my time there to speak to me about what it means to be a Christian and maintain relevance in, yet be distinct from the world. First, it seems that just as the purpose of physical glasses is to help us see things more clearly, the purpose of spiritual glasses is to help us see ourselves, others, the world, and God more clearly. As Christians, we are called to live our lives by way of our spiritual glasses. I'm sure we can recall a time when God allowed us to view a situation with a certain clarity that we ourselves did not "see" before we gave that situation to God and asked Him to see us through it.

    There two feature of physical glasses that I also believe are features of spiritual glasses. The first feature is that physical glasses helps us see things further down the road. Similarly, our spiritual glasses allow us to to see things "further down the road" in the sense that we can clearly see the spiritual consequences of certain decisions before they are made. The second feature is that physical glasses allow us things that are close in proximity with more clarity. When watching channels in High Definition (HD), my pops often says that the picture's so clear that "you can see the pimples on their face." Viewing things close up with physical glasses gives the same effect, as we are able to see people's facial features and features of various objects in closer detail. Similarly, spiritual glasses allow us to have a certain insight into people or situations, where we are able to view the spiritual aspect of the situations we are in. For instance, there are times when we're in a situation or social setting that on the surface seems completely normal, yet we feel something tugging on us saying "something's not right" or "I should not be here."

    The second thing I noticed about the Optometry clinic was that many (and possibly all, lol) of the optometrists working there had on glasses themselves. It immediately struck me because there are not many places where the people who "treat" people (1) had experienced or is experiencing the same thing as the person they are treating and (2) are openly wearing their "treatment," as doing so allows them to better help others. What I took from that was that as Christians, we have to "wear" Christ to where we are evidence to others that Christ is real, and that he heals any problems we had, have, or may experience. By doing so, I believe that people will see how God is always working in and through our lives.

    What do you think it means to have spiritual glasses? How has your spiritual glasses helped you to better deal with situations? Until next time, stay blessed and speekonit...

    Saturday, July 18, 2009

    Some Inspirational News

    Peace and blessings,

    When searching the internet for news, I am often jaded by most of the mainstream news outlets, because the majority of the news I come across involving people in the United States and globally is negative. I often have to do some serious searching to find news that is encouraging instead of discouraging. Thank God for
  • K-Love,
  • a radio station that focuses on finding encouraging news. Here are a few things I just found that I wanted to share:

    (1) A
  • 17-year-old becomes the youngest to sail around the world solo.

  • (2) A
  • teacher who saves a student's life.

  • (3) A woman recently becomes
  • the first female Presidential helicopter pilot.

  • Any news you can find that highlights the positive and encouraging aspects of our nature, please send it this way! Until next time, stay blessed, encouraged, and speekonit...

    Friday, July 10, 2009

    Scripture of the Day

    14 Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him."

    -2 Samuel 14:14 (NIV)

    Peace and blessings,

    I came across this verse a few days ago, and it "immediately grabbed" me. It reminds me of God's relentless love for us, whether or not we are acknowledging Him in a given situation or not. I pray that this scripture encourages you as it has me....

    When it's all said and done...

    Legacy: (Noun) Anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.

    "When my time comes
    Forget the wrong that I've done
    Help me leave behind some
    Reasons to be missed

    And don't resent me
    And when you're feeling empty
    Keep me in your memory

    Leave out all the rest
    Leave out all the rest"

    Peace and blessings,

    Wow, it's really been 6 months since the last time I posted something! Anyhow, I have noticed a common thread amongst my favorite song at the time (Linkin Park's "Leave Out All The Rest"), and two movies and three movies that I have seen recently (Death Note 1 & 2, and the Dark Knight-although I've seen the Dark Knight before). In the Death Note movies, the plot centers around a Law Student named Light who finds a notebook that gives life-taking powers to its owner. The owner of the notebook only has to write someone's name in the book, and they die. Anyhow, both movies were focused on catching this Law Student, and the task force was headed by the chief of police, who was the suspect's father. Once the identity of the suspect was revealed at the end of Death Note 2 and the suspect is killed, his father instead tells his wife and daughter that Light died trying to catch the suspect, thus protecting his son's image in the eyes of his mother and sister.

    In the Dark Knight, Harvey Dent, a talented and morally grounded District Attorney tries to bring down the Joker and rid Gotham City of fear and apathy. However, once the Joker gets the best of him, kills the love of his life, and causes him to damage half of his face, Harvey becomes morally "ungrounded," and becomes criminal. Once fighting side-by-side with Batman, Harvey and Batman were now on opposite sides. Once Batman stops him and Harvey dies, Batman and the police commissioner agree to tell the media that Harvey never "went astray" and died Gotham's hero.

    After playing out the Linkin Park song and watching these movies all in the same week, and hearing about the upcoming
  • Legacy Conference,
  • I came to the following conclusion: Most people, on some level or another, are concerned with (1) how they will be remembered when they die and (2) how their friends and loved ones will be remembered when they die. Furthermore, the actions of Light's father and Batman suggest that most of us also assume that others are concerned about how they will be remembered as well. Assuming for the sake of argument that this is true, why would this be the case?

    I think there are two reasons for why this concern with how we and others are remembered is so inter-woven into the human experience. One reason is that we want make sure that when our family and friends think about our lives, those thoughts will be filled with happy, positive, and encouraging memories. We hope that through our lives, we have helped make the world a better place. The other reason is that on some level, we believe that there has to be "something else" to our existence after we die, and insofar as that "something else" involves us being held accountable for how we lived our lives, we want to make sure we lived our lives "the right way."

    What do you think? Do you think people are generally concerned with how they will be remembered when they die? Are you? If so, why is this a concern for you? Take care, stay blessed, and speekonit...