In my weekend gear and ready to hit the road again, but felt like sharing this quick story from yesterday’s wedding that tenderly pierced my heart.
As I was shooting a wedding yesterday, the bride and groom’s families and close friends were in the back of this building behind the ceremony worshiping and taking communion.
After the communion the atmosphere was heavy. Not heavy in a bad way, but heavy in a way where it seemed the people were deep in their own thoughts of everything going around them.
As people finished up, the groom led worship to Amazing Grace to close the gathering to head off to the ceremony.
After the 3rd or 4th line, the groom shied away from his singing while darting his eyes around as he was soon realizing that he forgot the lyrics to the next part of the song.
One by one, the friends and families saw what was happening and began to finish the lyrics for him.
You can tell the groom was feeling embarrassed, nervous, or whatever feeling usually comes when you’re about to go into the most important ceremony of your life as both sides of each family that extends to 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generations watch your very move.
After, the bride’s father, a tall man with a shaky voice, who seemed to be in his late 60’s or early 70’s stood up to close for prayer.
The setting became quiet as every ear perked to listen.
The father of the bride had his eyes tightly shut with a subtle smile as his lips motioned in a way as if he was intently searching for the words to say.
He finally opened his mouth and said with a tender voice:
"Father… I thank You…
…that You don’t wait to be apologized in instances like these…”
I don’t know why this touched my heart in such a deep way.
Maybe because this man who was well into his years prayed as if he knew Jesus personally as an old friend who’s journeyed with him his whole life.
Maybe because the younger ones in the crowd thought everything was supposed to be serious and no one was supposed to mess up, but this man stood up almost a mediator to reassure everyone that the Jesus he talked to and loved didn’t behave in such legalistic ways.
I don’t know.
It felt like it was such a relief for me to hear this.
It always is when you hear grace being spoken through people who love Jesus, isn’t it?
There is no sin that is greater than God.
If there was, then sin would be god.
But Jesus is Lord over all.
So everything is subjected to the King.
That is why Jesus is able to pardon all iniquities.
It’s hard for us to comprehend, but that’s what makes Him God.
He is over all.
Now humble yourself and accept forgiveness. The King of the universe accepts you.
Now accept that fact.
God, I let you down…
Son, you were never holding me up in the first place.
"None can give to another what he does not possess in himself." - C.S. Lewis
My heart collapses only when I fill it with things my heart desires.
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9
When you are in love, you learn to love the things that you once never cared about because the person you love cares about them. This is why Christ told us that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God; when we love God we love others, we love the orphans and the widows. We love the world even when it hates us, we desire to see people healed and love restored.
You want to change the world? Then you need to start loving God in such a way that your entire world changes. That is the beauty of transformational love; it doesn’t just affect you, it affects all those around you.
Today, if you hear his voice,
Do not harden your hearts…
Many times, we learn more from defeat than victory.
It’s okay to make money, but it’s not okay to let money make you.
I’m sorry, B. I’m going away for another 2 years at least…
Are you serious…? Damn… Damn it…. What… How did this happen…?
*sigh* I don’t know man…. I tried taking shortcuts in life..
This conversation took place in the bathroom of a Korean restaurant. My friend, who I considered to be like an older brother, confessing to me that he got caught up with the feds and was looking at another 2-3 years in prison.
This was the same friend who I met 5 years ago at a bible study group when I was anti-Christ.
He was the same friend who called me randomly on a Tuesday to take me to Fish Grill “just because”.
He was the same friend who would call me early Sunday morning while I was either hungover or sleeping yelling over the other line,
"Brian, I’m outside of your house right now. Come out. Let’s go to church."
This was during the time I had no car and had a DUI on my record.
And tonight he said these words,
"B… I’m happy for you and Tiffany. Haha, I feel like you would have never met her unless I dragged your ass to church 5 years ago….
*with tears in his eyes* “Brian… I’m really happy for you. All that you’re doing in your life right now…
… I’m sorry that I had to go out like this so quickly after getting out 3 years ago…
I know God has a close eye on me… Either that or He would have let me lived however I wanted to…
I know He loves me that’s why I got caught for the illegal stuff I’ve been doing…
If He didn’t consider me a son, He would’ve let me done the things I’ve been doing…
But He blessed me with the older brother I have right now who prays for me and supports me through all this…
Since God blessed me with the parents I have right now who prays consistently for me…
I got caught… I know I got caught because God considers me His child…
Brian, I’m so happy for you. For reals. I’ll see you soon. Let’s grab dinner. You, me, and my bro…
Drive safe, goodnight…”
He was one of the few people who made an impact in my life to be living the life I live right now for Jesus.
I have faith that nothing that happens is in vain.
I know that this is all part of a wonderful masterpiece in the making.
A couple of my friends and I were at dinner and a conversation arose of how non-existent authentic Korean food was in North Carolina.
He began to explain how his mom would send him instant Dwenjang (Korean soybean tofu soup) that would come in little microwavable packages.
He continued to explain to us how disgusting and inauthentic it tasted from the traditional kind that is fermented over time.
My other friend sitting in front of me then shared how his dad recently bought some instant soba noodles and demonstrated to us how quickly he dropped his chopsticks in disgust after taking the first bite of it at home.
Unfortunately many, if not all, of these instant meals are processed at the expense of its originally intended flavors.
As I was listening to these funny stories, I couldn’t help but to draw similar parallels to us in our Christian walk.
We live in a day where we want everything in an instant.
We ask God to change us now, now, now!
We see these “super” Christians via superficial social media and feel the heavy responsibility to live up to their standards.
We condemn ourselves for not immediately being perfect at the moment we met Christ.
Yes, there are many times where chains are broken as we dive deeper into His love through the knowledge of His word and filling of His Spirit, but it is a process.
Repeat this to yourselves.
Preach this to your hearts as David preached to his own soul (Psalm 42:5).
Nothing valuable comes instantly.
Great marriages, high positions, discipline, character, etc…
These are just a few that take massive amount of time and effort.
There is no such thing as an “instant” marriage or “instant” character.
There is no such thing as an “instant” Christian.
People who act like there is such a pathway do not “taste” the same as the ones who have gone through the process of being “fermented”.
If God were to answer our prayers of changing the areas of ourselves that we hate, we will never come to fully know the depth of His love for us in our flaws.
There’s a saying that goes, “If everyone was perfect only lust would remain. Imperfections help perfect authentic love.”
If God were to “fix” your flaws and bad habits immediately, that would only leave a shallow kind of love; almost like a photoshopped, liposuction & airbrushed kind of love.
We can only change and turn from our sin when we realize that God loves us even in our flaws and bad habits; this is like the raw, non-photoshopped, non-airbrushed, real, down & dirty kind of love.
That experiential knowledge alone will transform any heart.
Is this not the kind of love the world craves for?
And this is the kind of love He pours out upon us… even in our ugliness.
At this moment, can you think of the ugliest area in your life and stay there for a minute or two?
It might be tough, but stay there and inform yourself that God loves you still. He loves you in that dirty place you guard anyone else from entering into.
He died for that ugly area in your life.
Let. It. Go.
In the process
In the waiting
You’re making melodies over me
And your presence
is the promise
For I am a pilgrim on a journey
You will lift my head above the mighty waves
You are able to keep me from stumbling
And my weakness
you are the strength that comes from within
Good shepherd of my soul
Take my hand and lead me on…
Generosity is not a spiritual gift.
It’s not accessible once you’ve reached a certain financial milestone.
It is not an option.
It is a discipline we must practice day-to-day.
Whether you make a little or a lot, you discipline yourself to give.
When you’re faithful with little, you’ll be faithful with much.
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