In the Despair — a Poem of Hope

I believe that all men

At a point in their life

Do arrive to a state

Of despair.

 –

“Oh my God,” cried the king,

“Where are you in this world?”

We do fear that the Lord

Is not fair.

 –

But despite our small thoughts

Our Lord God who redeems,

Keeps us in, close to Him

And His care.

 –

We can

Surely

Know He

Will not

Falter

On His

Promise.

 –

In the times of confusion

Trust in God’s substitution.

 –

On the cross in the East

God did die for our release.

 –

There is trouble

There is pain;

But in all

Can be gain.

 –

Even when

God seems far,

Don’t despair

For you are

On a journey

That is good,

And will make you

More strong than wood.

 –

So look up to the sky,

And whisper to God:

“I will trust you

I will serve you.”

Even if you feel

Under a curse,

Know that Christ

Loved you first.

 –

There is a hope

Midst the sorrow.

I will wait

For tomorrow.

C.D.

Mom

A mom is security, love and support;

She knows what you’re about, both inside and out.

You tell her the latest, the good and the bad,

And caringly she listens to the heart of the sad.

From childhood to grown up

She’s there in the midst.

She’s everything that matters

Like a precious jewel she sparkles and shimmers.

But you take her for granted.

Yet her love is not lessened,

Diminished or slanted—

It’s within her deeply planted.

And then,

You wake up and find,

The gem afore spoken

Sits there and is broken;

She’s moaning and groaning

And running out of time.

Oh what I would do,

Looking back with regret,

To whisper her name again and again.

To sing her sweet songs.

Oh how I do long

To shout with my life

I LOVE YOU, MOM!

I would tear down the sky

Just to say one last good-bye.

To hug her and kiss her

And let her see me cry.

The tears run so easy

Like never before,

She loved us so much—

Why didn’t I love her more?

But now she is gone,

Taken beyond,

To a land without shadow

A place that is hallow.

She’s traveled to Heaven

She’s taken to Jesus

And Jesus can love her

‘Cause He’s the true lover.

And though I can’t see it,

And hardly believe it:

I rest in this promise

For I know He will keep it.

C.D.

It’s a Jesus Story

I honestly do not know what people will think of me after this post, because humans naturally tend to like super-people who serve God perfectly and hardly struggle [with real issues]. Sure, we talk about struggle, we admit to the general idea of failure in our past or present—but few ever publicly admit to the actual, specific, day-by-day struggles of ordinary people.

But the book of Revelation says that we conquer Satan by the Blood of the Lamb [Jesus] and the word of our testimony (Rev. 12:11). So here is my testimony.

First, I will give you a quick synopsis of my life:

Most people reading this probably know that I am a white, Mennonite kid, originally from Minnesota, whose family moved to Los Angeles, when I was twelve, to work for the Southern California district of Choice Books and to plant inner-city churches. Most people also know that my mother, my sister, and I were in a car accident which left my beautiful mother fatally injured and she died in the rescue helicopter moments after take-off. This was four days before my brother’s wedding, just four months ago.

So that is the synoptic of my life, now let me tell you my story. I do not write this because I love to spill my guts on the internet. I write this because Jesus has done a wonderful work in my life, and I have become convinced that not to share my story is denying Jesus’ redemption of my life. Jesus has given me a story, now it is my job to share it. I also share it because I think there are a lot of guys out there who need to hear others talk about their stories. I have nothing to hide. My story is true and my redemption is true, so why would I not tell it?

I “accepted Jesus into my heart” several times when I was young, the two most significant being at age seven and nine. Although I do believe I was sincere, I do not think I completely understood the entirety of who Jesus is. To me He was the God-Man in white clothes who died on the cross to save me from Hell. So I said a prayer in order to escape Hell and satisfy my conscience. I believe Jesus heard my childish prayer and set me on a journey to more fully understand who He is. Why? Because He loves me. Unfortunately, sometimes in the process of getting better, we become worse.

When I was eleven years old, I realized that I liked to lust. And in my foolish weakness, I chose to look at pornography. I cannot say that I just happened to fall into it; I chose to walk into it, and everything that comes with it. And I became a slave to it. I quietly worshiped and served the addiction for three years and was powerless to rid myself of its clutches.

It was during this time that my family moved to Los Angeles in April of 2008. Looking back with my limited perspective, our move was probably a life saver for me, but at the time I hated it. The year 2008, my twelfth year of life, was probably the darkest year I have ever lived. I believe even darker than the last four months. Then, I was a slave to sin (Satan); now, I am a slave to Christ (which is the most freeing situation in the whole world because His burden is light). My slavery, added with the intense loneliness I felt in L.A., affected my whole lifestyle and I quickly became a recluse who only desired to please myself.

All throughout these years, I knew I was not obeying God. I hated it and I pleaded with God to do a miracle and to give me courage to confess. But everyday I awoke and was forced to serve the master I had given myself to. I was living like God’s good son, but I was truly eating pig’s food (Luke 15:11-32).

On Christmas Eve, 2008, I and my parents had a conversation which ended in my recommitting my life to Christ, but I still did not confess my addiction. I sometimes question the sincerity of my experience, but that night marks a point in time when my life began to turn around.

The spring of 2009 was a huge leap for me. Back then, Choice Books sold the “Read the Bible in 90 Days” Bible. Being the type of person who likes a reading challenge, I attempted it. Those three months of ingesting God’s word did something that I cannot explain. It all culminated on June 27, 2009, when I wrote my Dad a letter which explained everything about me that I could think. After having him read it, I felt a relief that I will never forget. I believe it was then, at the moment when I released my idol, that Jesus was able to flood my soul with Himself. But I still had a long journey ahead of me. It took about another year before I was really free from the bonds of pornography—a year of surrendering to Jesus, and strong accountability to my parents. (Let me insert that I credit my parents trust in me as one of the greatest enablers in my surrender. They trusted me to surrender and make right choices.)

I still need to surrender to Jesus, I still have struggles and temptations of various sorts, and I am still a choice away from falling once again; but Christ’s grace is sufficient for me. I do not need to fear temptation or Satan. All I want now is to worship Jesus because He has freed me and justified me before the Father. He is my advocate and I am His child. I can come boldly before His throne and I can look to Him for strength. This is who I am. I have nothing to hide because Jesus has forgiven me of everything, and it is only because of His grace and strength that I can walk in victory today.

Jesus, I am grateful.

This is my story, my song. I hope that anyone reading this who struggles with sin in any way, will realize that they are not alone. I hope they will see that Jesus can save them and redeem them.

If you want peace with God—if you want freedom from sin, if you want the light of Christ in your life, if you want strength to walk through any trial—you must surrender to Jesus. Jesus wants to help you, because He loves you.

Half of surrender is realizing that without Jesus we are monsters but with Him we are weak sheep that need protecting and guiding. (And with Jesus protecting us, we are strong and safe.) The other half is just letting go of whatever is keeping us from worshiping Jesus.

We can either continue in what our flesh says is good or we can surrender to Jesus and His love. We can either worship Satan or we can worship Jesus. There are no other options. When we worship Satan, we become monsters; but when we surrender to Jesus and worship before His throne, we become His precious sheep—His beloved children.

I want to be a sheep, not a monster. What about you?

The avoidance of this topic bothers me. The fact that we act surprised when people confess to struggling with this issue, really bothers me. Anyone who is remotely engaged in western culture and knows anything about human nature should not be surprised. Look all around us. Immorality is everywhere. Let’s not close our eyes to it, let’s not plug our ears! Apart from Jesus Christ that is you, that is me. It’s in our neighborhoods, it’s in our governments, and it’s in our families and churches.

Struggles with sin cannot be legislated out of us. They cannot be pulled, pushed, or shoved out of our lives. We are who we are and we are completely unable to change. Do we get it? We or anyone else cannot change us. So let’s quit trying.

Enter Jesus Christ.

For our sin the just Father demands a payment [retribution]. Our sentence is eternity in hell. We cannot escape it; we cannot pay it off any other way. Yet, God loves us tremendously. So He became a human and lived a perfect life, therefore He had no sentence to hell. Having lived a perfect life He then offered His life as payment to the just Father. He shed His blood and paid hell for each of us. But God being pleased with the payment raised Jesus (the God-Man) up from the dead and set Him at His right hand in Heaven. We now have no sentencing. God is satisfied; we are justified. Jesus now invites us to relate directly with the Father because the Father no longer demands payment from us. All we have to do is surrender and say “Yes, Jesus, yes! I accept you as the payment for my own sin. I am at your mercy! I worship you! I am yours forever. Yes, Lord, I say yes!”

This is the Gospel. This is the power of salvation [from pornography, bitterness, rebellion, pride, and from every bondage of Satan].

One day, because Jesus has done all this for us, we are going to stand before God’s throne and out of perfect, eternal gratitude we will throw ourselves before the throne, caste our crowns [our rewards] at Christ’s feet and cry “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12).

So what will it be, my friend? Is your temporary pleasure really worth what Jesus can give you eternally? I pray that you will surrender and abandon your earthly life, at the cross.

C.D.

Higher Heights

Recently, my family and I took my two cousins and my aunt (Mom’s sister Becky) out to the coast, near Malibu, California.

Just out of Malibu there is a massive rock that sits on the ocean side of the road in a very prominent place. Since it is at the point of a minor bay, it can be seen from quite a way off.

About half way between the beginning of the bay and the massive rock, is a sandbank that rises very high against a large, steep hill. We have climbed that sandbank in the past, but this time my cousin Lynnwood challenged us guys to try to scale even to the very top of the ridge. This is no easy task, as the cliff is about as vertical as it could get without actually being vertical. The cliff is made up of loose rock, sand, sagebrush, and small bushes, as well as cacti and yuccas.

So as all the other sand climbers took it easy and remained content with their view of the ocean, my Dad, Lynnwood, my brother Asher, and I took up the challenge to reach the ridge.

As I, in flip-flops, struggled up the hillside, slipping and sliding on the loose rock, my mind pulled itself out of its nothing-box and began to think.

Way down at the bottom were lots of contentedly happy and comfortable people who could see the ocean just fine, while we four crawled up the rugged hillside as if trying to imitate Frodo and Sam ascending Mount Doom. Yet every time I turned around and focused on the ocean, I was impressed by the beauty of the higher perspective. As I climbed closer to the top, my perspective of the ocean became more and more complete. I could see nearly the entire bay in one glance. When I finally summited the summit, the view was extraordinary. I could see the wooded green hills that extended farther beyond my ridge. I could see the blue ocean shimmering in the sunlight. I could see the massive rock saluting the opposite point. And I could see the little people far below enjoying their very limited perspective of this marvelous sight. They had no clue.

Such is life. Many people have a fine view of God. They are not sinning nor in rebellion toward God. They see Him and love Him, but because they are not willing to scale new heights and dive to new depths, their perspective of God remains limited and shallow.

Greater perspective of God takes greater struggle. Our hearts are drawn toward pursuing greater heights, but often we get so enamored with the sea level experiences that we do not do what it takes to experience God in greater ways. And sometimes, in our struggle, others can look at us, or we at ourselves, and think we are doing things wrong; but in reality our struggle is born out of our pursuit of a greater perspective of God.

The glorious characteristic of Jesus is the fact that He loves us no matter where we are at—even if we are running away from the “ocean” [God]. This characteristic intrigues us and compels us to pursue this awesome, mysterious God.

I am challenged to search my heart and identify what is keeping me from pursuing a greater perspective of God. I believe anything that obstructs my path to God is an idol and should be destroyed. Unfortunately, I not only am unable to destroy such obstructions on my own but I often hang onto them. I thank Jesus that He continually calls me and gives me opportunities to let go of those things which are too close to my heart. I want to continually surrender them and submit to His love for me and His love for His own glory.

As a Child of God, Heaven is the ultimate height I am pursuing. Heaven has the greatest perspective. Heaven is the only reality. One day, we, the Adopted of God, are going to wake up in Heaven and everything that happened on earth will be outshone by the brilliance of Heaven. It will be like waking up from a dream. We might not forget life on earth, but it will be of little significance compared to magnificent Heaven.

What amazes me, though, is that, from my understanding of the Bible, apparently seeing the face of Jesus will be so awesome that seeing my mom’s face will be a glorious but minor benefit. Now that will be an awesome experience.

Let’s keep embracing struggle and pursuing greater perspectives of God.

May God bless your journey.

C.D.

In Pictures

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