Praise & Worship (The Remix)

I often wonder if we were to change old (and not so old) praise and worship songs to fit today’s “modern” church service – would they sound/look like this?

Come, Now Is The Time To Worship: Come, Now Is The Time To Watch Worship
We Exalt Thee: We Have 15 Minutes To Exalt Thee
Holy Spirit Thou Art Welcome In This Place: Holy Spirit Thou Art Welcome In This Place But Please Don’t Convict Us To Righteousness
Here I Am To Worship: Here I Am To Be Entertained
Lord Let Your Glory Fall: Lord Let Your Glory Fall But Not Right Now Because We’re Seeker Friendly and Good With The Status Quo

There’s a hollowness in many churches all around our country today because they rather entertain than enter in. They rather grow their church exponentially but not teach them (especially newly saved) about the power they now have in Jesus to actually keep them. Worse yet, there are those who have been saved many years and are completely content in mediocrity and don’t believe in miracles any more. We’ve become ineffective not because we lack love but because we lack conviction and zeal. We do a piss-poor job of growing spiritually because it might stretch us out of our comfort zone. So we go through the motions like zombies. Let’s wake up. Let’s be real about ourselves and our struggles. Let’s be real in knowing we need a savior and not just His love and grace but His life-changing power. Let’s see a true revival. It starts with us. Ironically, we must borrow from an old song and say: I don’t want to be, I don’t want to be a casual Christian.

 

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Prince & The Passion Of Purpose

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As 2016 draws to a close I can’t help but reflect on so much and upon the lives of people that have impacted mine, especially at a tender age. I know that it’s been eight months since Prince has passed but it still stings my soul. I was just a little boy when I first heard his music. I didn’t consciously know who he was until I was in the 4th grade. That’s when Purple Rain came out. But this is not a tribute or an act of redundancy. What can I possibly say that hasn’t already been said about the man?

Gifts and talents are placed inside each and every one of us. Some, like in the old parable, hide them and are afraid to use them. Others, wisely, use what is given and use them to the best of their ability. When I think of Prince, I think of a person who used every bit of God-given talent and ability. There’s a legendary honor in that. There’s a celestial respect given that makes history resonate with a melody of his music. It’s a melody that has it’s genesis in everything that pushes greatness. Passion. Not passion as we think but a passion of purpose.

Prince was designed to be a musician and music was his passion. Music was his purpose. There’s countless stories from seasoned musicians who were put to shame by the genius that was Prince. He played many instruments and he played them exceedingly well. Prince practiced and/or played music every day. Think about that. Really. I’ll give you a moment or two. There’s a vault of countless music that he recorded that has yet to be released. Will we ever see/hear it? To be honest, I could care less. The point of the matter is, he lived his life with a passion for his purpose.

How many of us are living our purpose? Are we merely existing? Do we have that fire to do the thing(s) that was given us? You may not think you have a talent but don’t let that deny the world of the gift that is you. If it’s been a while since you used your gift/talent take heart, it’s never too late to start again. This crazy, sick, old world needs musicians, poets, story tellers, encouragers, helpers, listeners…anything that brings light to our fellow man.

I implore you to dig deep and light the fire of passion for your purpose. It’s your gift to the world. We all need a reminder of passion for our purpose Maybe some day someone will write a story, a thought or a song about you and the passion of purpose of which you lived. A purpose of passion that encouraged a weary soul to seek the best in themselves. Leave no doubt that you are living a life with passion for your purpose. The world needs reminders every day.

*For Esperanza/Hope in all of us

The Fight Against Depression

01RobJust like Pagliacci did, I tried to keep my sadness hid; Smiling in the public eye but in the lonely room I cry; The tears of a clown when there’s no one around. – Smokey Robinson (Tears of A clown)

I don’t claim to be funny. I like to think I am. There’s nothing better than putting a smile on someone’s face. Maybe at one time or another I tried to be a class clown. Recently, however, after meeting up with some grade school classmates, I was told I had a loud mouth (thanks, Yvette and Brian). It’s kind of buzz kill to hear that I was more obnoxious than funny. I did and still do hate bullies. Pops taught me to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. I got into a few scraps defending classmates and sometimes I just got into chingasos because I didn’t know how to control my emotions. But that’s neither here nor there so I digress. Point of the matter is I like to take care of people. Still do if and when I can. Almost all of them never knew this one thing about me: I battle with depression.

Whether we want to admit it or not, there’s a stigma that goes with depression . People don’t want to talk about their mental health issues. They feel as though they’ll be looked down upon. They feel as though they’re not good enough to fit in. Sadly, their worst fears are proven to be true. People are judgmental or unsympathetic.

When Robin Williams took his life last year it hit me hard. I literally grew up watching him on Mork & Mindy. I loved his stand up comedy and movies. He made me laugh like no other. When I heard that he had battled long and hard with depression I felt even more heartbroken for him. I understood. I knew some of the pain and angst he felt. To the depths of which, we all are different but the pain is still there.

The best thing you can do when you are fighting with depression is to seek help. Sometimes it’s going to see if there’s a chemical imbalance or talking things over with a professional. Take that step. Don’t let fear grip and put you into a standstill. DO NOT ISOLATE YOURSELF! You have family and friends that care and love you but they can’t help you if you don’t ask for it.

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Family and friends of people who are fighting depression, be kind, be encouraging, be loving, be stern when you have to. There will be times when you will get frustrated but do your best to be patient. You’ll want to give up on them at times. Don’t. You may not understand their struggle but loving them isn’t and shouldn’t be set on the condition that they have to get better right away.

This subject is probably the most important I’ve written about. If it could help anybody get better then it will have served its purpose. I can’t repeat this enough: To those who feel like giving up, don’t. Fight! To those who feel like giving up on loved ones who are waging a war you don’t understand, don’t. You may just hold the keys to help them overcome.

The Impossible (And Redemptive) Math of 7 x 70

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“Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not next week or month or even year…but I will get you back!”

Yeah. Those words usually flowed out of the mouth of Jefe after he had been done wrong. Although he had been taught and even shown mercy and grace, he had a vindictive streak in him. He spelled forgiveness: r-e-v-e-n-g-e.

It’s easy to say, “I forgive you” but to actually follow through on the action can be hard. I’m no theologian but when I think of when Jesus was asked the question about forgiveness, he knew our human condition and responded to that. “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” Often, we replay the misdeed in our head and hold on to that hurt or pain. Do we truly forgive if we continually revisit the wrong done to us? 

Now I know you’re probably thinking, “Jefe – you can’t expect me to be somebody’s punching bag and continue to let them hurt me knowing that I’ll continue to forgive them.” Of course not. Common sense and wisdom are definitely needed. We’re not made to be anyone’s whipping post.

Does Jefe have this forgiveness stuff down right? Heck no! He is, however, working at it – daily! There are times when he still wants to be vindictive. He can admit that he’ll even find ways of bringing up the hurt/transgression to punish that individual for doing him wrong. Is that forgiveness? No. He is still letting the pain hold him captive and in turn, tries to keep the offender along with him for the ride.

Everything won’t always come up roses and rainbows when you choose to forgive. You even have to be OK with apologies that will never be spoken. Forgiveness is a powerful thing when you let it. It can set both parties free. It is a choice for sure. Choose to be at peace with yourself. Choose to love and show love. I’m reminded of the scripture about love and the part where it says, “love keeps no records of wrong”. Dang it – I’ve been doing this love and forgiveness thing wrong! I’ve kept the records in file cabinets of my mind.

Nothing says I love you more than choosing to forgive and truly showing it. Nothing shows love, if you are the offender than being truly contrite and choosing to change your ways. Sometimes circumstances don’t allow you to see or talk to the person who wronged you. Choose to forgive them anyways. Say it out loud if you have to. Write a letter and then throw it away or burn it. However you choose to, be like Nike and Just Do It!

Forgiveness begins within ourselves. Maybe you’re like Jefe and have a hard time forgiving yourself. Maybe you’ve said or done something that you think is past forgiveness. NOTHING is ever past forgiveness. In this crazy cynical world we are taught to be hyper-vigilant against wrong doing and it is our right to seek revenge. Choose to break free from whatever you hold yourself bound to. Live in the freedom God wants and has for you. Even if you have to do it a few times a day. Or 7 x 70.

 

 

Jeremiah 29:11-13

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When we think all around has fallen, it’s good to know that God’s thoughts for us are good.  His love is amazing.  Seek him with all of your heart.  He is waiting to share so much with you – wonderful things.  Even things you never thought possible.  Remember that with God, ALL things are possible!

Go To The Source

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In this day and age of high technology and finger tip information it is sad that we have lost our ability to truly communicate and understand one another.  There is such a disconnect when we text, email and use social media.  Many don’t see a problem but there is.  So much can be (and is) misconstrued simply because we choose what we think to be an easier way.   Granted, there are times when proximity can be a problem but for the most part we don’t allow ourselves or others a chance to respond.  That’s the beauty of going to the source.  There’s an ebb and flow of talking face to face.  It not only gives us the chance to voice our thoughts but the opportunity to listen.  The art of conversation might be dead but it doesn’t have to be so if we just go to the source, talk and listen.  You’d be surprised at what can happen.

Shifting

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Life can shift on you in a blink of an eye. Sometimes, people who you thought were going to always be by your side are easily swayed by opinions of others or doubts in their mind. They might think you aren’t worth anything or as they say in the calles, “ain’t worth shit”. That’s fine. Keep grinding. Keep moving. You may move a little bit at first but in time you will build momentum. If people can stay by your side through your worst, they are the ones you can call and know to be a friend. Pain is temporary. Quitting is forever.  No matter what might be said or done, don’t quit during the shifts of life.