God and the Sandy Man Bun Angel

It was about 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

My girlfriend and I had just been hanging out on the beach for about an hour before it started to rain. We ran back to my car, but the sky cleared right away.

That is Florida for you in a nutshell.

So, we decided to go on a walk.

The Florida island that we were on has a really well-known street. It is lined with bars, restaurants, mini golf, you name it. We even walked passed what seemed to be a pirate convention. Interesting to say the least. We walked all the way down the street and then all at once we were blown away.

In the sky there was a GIANT rainbow.

Never before in my life have I seen a rainbow end to end.

I could clearly see one end of the rainbow landing in the water and the other end landing just off into the distance.

I was speechless.

We were speechless.

Up ahead of me I saw a man approaching.

He looked like he had been lost at sea for years. He was about 45 years old. No shoes. Feet with bleeding wounds. Ripped up wet t-shirt. Hands and nails covered in muck. His hair tied up in a sandy man bun under a cowboy hat. His beard touched his chest. His hair, a mix of light brown,white, and grey.

He smiled at my girlfriend and I and said a few kind words.

And just like that he was gone.

Something about him made me want to talk more.

A while later I saw him again, as we were making our way back up the street.

After coming up to us and making small talk he asked me a question,

“You are a man of God, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” I replied.

 

He responded,

“I knew that…God told me so.”

My first instinct in the past would be to judge this man. To look at him and think what is he smoking? God told you so? Are you sure about that? But for some reason this time I fought that instinct. I did not let his appearance or apparent bag of alcohol and cigarettes stop me from listening and asking questions.

I started asking him about his faith and his life.

Let us call him Josh.

Josh told me that he sleeps on the beach. He never leaves the island. His father lives on the island but he chooses to sleep out near the water. He told me that God has given him this earth as his home. He told me how people view him as indigent but that is not the case. He told me that he is a believer but he drinks and smokes a lot. He said that everyday he has his four beers and 20 cigarettes. He calls his beers his “Spirit water.” He told me that his Church is when he gets together with two or three friends.

He told me that on the beach…

“God drinks his wine, while I drink my beers….and we laugh together.”

 

“You always remember, God has a great sense of humor.”

Josh then started asking me all about my life. He asked me what my goals were and what I wanted to be. The whole time he talked with me he touched my shoulder. He grasped my hands. I could feel how invested he was in the conversation. Once again, I fought my instinct. This man was covered in dirt and who knows what. Yet, that did not matter to me in the moment. There was a form of comfort as he patted my shoulders and shook my hand.

I told Josh that I was going to medical school and that I wanted to be a physician to help others.

This is where it got interesting.

Josh didn’t ask me where I go. Josh didn’t ask me how it was going. Josh didn’t ask me about my grades.

Josh asked me if I really meant it. 

 

“So are you going to go all the way or like just for a few years and then not do it.”

 

The first thing Josh wanted to know was if I was committed.

I immediately responded,

“I am going to finish. I want to be a doctor. I want to help others.”

We said our goodbyes and while driving home it all started to click.

The past two months of medical school have been the most difficult months of my life. There would be nights I felt helpless, uncertain if this was right for me. There have been tears. There has been fear. There has been regret. Moments, where I questioned God’s will for me. This week was the hardest yet. With so many tests and the anxiety building up like Tetris bricks….I did not know how I was going to do it.

But I made it.

And on September 23rd, 2017 at 4 o’clock God sent me a rainbow in the sky. To remind me that the worst is over and the best is yet to come. God sent me an angel with a sandy man bun. To ask me if I was ready to keep fighting in the journey. To ask me if I was committed. To remind me that God has a sense of humor and it is time I start laughing again.

 

 

 

Prayer and Procrastination

I am procrastinating right now.

I hate it.

This week I have two big medical school tests.

Am I ready?

Not even close?

Do I want to get a good grade?

Of course.

Have I been working hard?

Yes.

So what’s the problem?

Today, I want to write a little about procrastination and staying focused. As someone that has many issues focusing/sitting still, studying is very hard for me. I have tried everything. Running while listening to lectures. Writing on a white board. Pacing and reading my powerpoints. At the end of the day, I somehow manage to get it done.

However, things are a little different in medical school. In order to succeed one must be able to focus for an insane amount of hours in the day. My school recommends studying for 8-10 hours. Umm. Yeah.

I’ve been struggling to keep up with my classmates. I have been struggling to keep up with the boat load of material.

Only one thing has helped me get through it all.

That is prayer.

Prayer has allowed me to calm my overactive mind.

Prayer has allowed me to put my situation into a new perspective.

Prayer has reminded me that I am not in this alone.

Friends, I encourage you to take time out of your day for prayer and reflection. I promise you it will make the journey much easier. Procrastinate with prayer and you won’t be wasting time…in reality you will be doing the best thing you can do with your time.

Is Stress Your DJ?

I have been trying to think of a time.

In my life.

Where stress did not impact my attitude/actions.

What comes to mind is moments as a child. Where stress did not seem to exist. I can think of moments right after a big test. Where the weight of the exam melted off my shoulders. I can think of moments laughing with friends and family. I can think of moments where I stare into the eyes of my girlfriend. Moments where I am doing acts of service to help the word. I can think of moments when I am jamming out in the car. Moments when I am praying. Moments when I am reading a good book and drinking some rad coffee.

These moments rock. Yet, they are so few and far between.

Why is that?

Because I let stress win.

Lets imagine something real quick. You have your headphones on and you are listening to your playlist. Everyday you wake up and you put these headphones on. You scroll down the list of songs and pick one. Every moment of your life you must have a song playing.

The playlist looks a bit like this.

Playlist name: Life

Song 1: Sound of fear

Song 2: Sound of joy

Song 3: Sound of failure

Song 4: Sound of uncertainty

Song 5: Sound of perseverance

Then you pick one. YOU choose a song. Because you have the choice every single day, every single moment, to pick the song of your day.

The problem is we seem to let life choose a song for us.

We seem to let stress win and become the master of our very own playlist.

If there is one thing I know it is that human beings like to have control. We like determining our own destiny and fulfilling our dreams.

Yet, why do we let stress be the DJ?

Today, I want to encourage you all to reflect on this. Is stress impacting how you live your life everyday? If moments are so great without stress, why are we letting stress choose our music?

It is time that we make a new playlist. A playlist built on enjoying this awesome life we have been given.

Today, I am dancing because I am not listening to sounds of failure, fear, or loneliness.

But rather, of hope, joy, and a whole lot of faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Up.

I have been hearing something lately…but not with my ears.

With my heart.

Have you ever heard a phrase over and over again inside of you?

Like a song that pops in your head at the most random times.

And the more you try to get rid of it, the more it keeps coming back?

My song goes a little like this.

 

Get up and walk.

 

In John 5 Christ says such a phrase to a man ill, paralyzed, and alone for thirty eight years.

Christ declares, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

The man jumps up and is healed.

Just like that.

The more I think about this the more I see how it relates to my (our) lives. A lot of our troubles stem from not moving spiritually. Our struggles stem from the fact that we are spiritually stagnant. Christ’s command, to get up and walk, must be applied to all of our lives.

We must not just hear the word, but walk with the word.

We must not just ask for God’s grace, but utilize it.

We must not pray for courage, and then cry out in fear.

In Church today I was reminded of two great scripture passages.

The first was:

In 1 Kings 19:11 we are told that God is not dwelling in the dramatic. Such as fires, earthquakes, and roaring winds.

God is found in the whispers of our hearts.

The second passage was Matthew 14:22-23. 

In this passage Christ tells Peter to come out and walk on the water. Peter does but his doubts cause him to sink.

After hearing these verses at Church today I did not know what to make of them.

What do I do with the whisper I am hearing?

Why am I so like Peter walking on water and becoming afraid?

How do I just do what I need to do! 

Still confused, it was time for the “sign of peace” at Church. For those who are unaware, in the Catholic Church there is a moment in the Mass where everyone in the pews shakes each others hands, hugs, kisses….showing one another a sign of peace.

I shook a few hands and fell into the depth of my thoughts again.

About five minutes later, while frustrated, I noticed a little boy about 5 years old.

This boy was consumed with joy. And I truly mean it. He had a smile plastered on his face that was not going away.

Though the sign of peace was long over he was going down the aisles shaking EVERYONES hand.

Most people were a bit taken a back.

I wasn’t.

“That’s it,” I thought.

Get up. Don’t listen to the world. Listen to the whisper inside.

Act with joy.

Act with love.

Act with courage.

Always,

Without hesitation.

 

Literally. Just smile. 

At Church the other day a priest said something I thought was awesome. He was describing how everyone acts so bitter and down trotten all the time. There is such a lack of joy in the world. 

He said, “people walk around like they were baptized in vinegar.”

I laughed. Why? 

Because it is so true. 

And I know I am one of those people. 

We need to remind ourselves that we are baptized in living water. This is water that refreshes us. Wipes us clean. Gives us new strength every. Single. Day. 

So stop it. 

Yes. Just like that. STOP. 

Pick up your head. 

Put a smile on. 

And start believing in what you believe. 

Start loving others and living in the joy. 

Let go of self. Now. Not later. NOW. 

Have you ever jumped into a freezing pool of water? It is scary at first but after you feel so alive? Yeah? You need to jump in everyday. That jump is the courage to have joy in all things. 

I read an article today that said 20 minutes of positive thinking in a short amount of time can drastically change your brain chemistry. Guess what I am doing in my long shower tomorrow? 

Living water people. 

Not vinegar.

It begins this second. 

I’ve probably read every self-help book out there. I can spare you some time and let you know a little secret about all of them. They can give you tips but can’t do anything for you. If you want joy you must start living it. Being it. Remembering He is it. 

This world needs more joy. No excuses. It’s up to you now. Spread it all over the beautiful earth we are so lucky to be a part of. 

Joy is not feeling happy 24/7. 

 Joy is allowing yourself to be a window of Christ’s love and seeing that light transform the world. 

It’s So Lit.

When I was about four years old I had these dope light up sneakers.

No joke. They were awesome.

I remember jumping up and down, dancing, doing whatever I could to see the lights.

If you didn’t move they did not light up. I never wanted the lights to stop.

 

Today, I was reminded of my first memory of being afraid. The topic of fear has been on my mind a lot as I start this new chapter of my life (attending medical school).

I remember being outside at my grandmother’s house in the Bronx, NY. It was a beautiful sunny summer day; however, I needed to go inside in the house. The only way to get inside was to go through the basement.

The basement was pitch black. I am talking black hole black.  It was ominous to say the least. As a four year old it was basically the set for a horror movie.

I had no idea where the light switch was down there….

So, naturally I did what any other toddler would do/ (maybe I still do in my dark basement at home as a 22 year old)…..

I RAN

 

I started sprinting through the basement and up the steep stairs to try to make it into the house without being murdered by all the monsters. I was breathing heavy. My legs were hurting. But I can attest that in that moment I was faster than Usain Bolt.

 

Once I was a few steps up I noticed something that took away my fear.

 

My feet were lighting the way.

 

This is exactly how Christ acts in our lives.

There are a lot of Bible verses about the theme of light.

For example….

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105

“In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light sines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1: 4-5

“The Lord is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear?” Psalm 27:1

 

These verses are awesome at explaining something.

With Christ we find clarity.

 

Follow Him and His word and your staircase is lit up.

Follow Him and darkness will be defeated.

Follow Him and hope will flourish, fear will die. 

 

When I was climbing the stairs I did not see the light unless I was moving my feet.  I believe the same goes for our relationships with Christ. If we sit around hoping God will do the miraculous for us we will be disappointed. Christ did not call us to a life of inaction but rather a life of crazy and ridiculous faith.

He called us to a life of prayer, fasting, love, humility, joy, and peace.

This is a choice we must make. Each virtue/act of faith/ act of service is a new step forward up the faith walk staircase.

Each one of us was called to run through the basement of fear. We are not called to sit in the corner of the basement hiding our faces. We are called to move our feet and let His light guide us home.

 

So, remember…

The love of Christ is lighting your steps.

Keep moving those feet in love to keep seeing His light.

Don’t ever be afraid of the world’s darkness because with Him….

 

IT’S LIT. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All I Do Is Swim, Swim, Swim, No Matter What

The other day I was treading water.

Not because I was in trouble, but because I was competing. Like in the movie The Guardian. The scene where all the prospective coast guard members are thrown in the pool and have to stay afloat or they are kicked out of the program.

Click Here

I am no fish. Swimming is the most difficult form of exercise for me. Tell me to run a half-marathon right now and I can do it no problem. But swimming, I am winded after a good three minutes.

While treading water, I was flailing my arms everywhere. In due time the lactic acid started to build up in my muscles. My head started to bob under. My arms could not move fast enough.

Needless to say, I lost the contest.

 

A few days later I realized that I am treading water everyday. 

 

While treading water…

Your body is exhausted.

Your mind is telling you to quit.

You can feel your lungs collapsing.

Yet, you are going no where.

 

Everyday we tread water…

When we exhaust our minds thinking about our goals instead of doing them.

When we become so self-absorbed that are main focus is keeping our own head afloat.

When we exhaust our bodies by hurting them with unhealthy food and poor life choices. 

When we lose sight of the final destination. 

 

At the end of the day treading water, we go to bed exhausted. This tiredness makes us feel as though we actually accomplished something. Yet, we accomplished nothing at all. We stayed put.

 

I don’t know about you but I want to swim.

 

When we swim we have a destination in mind.

The destination drives us. Motivates us. Keep our arms paddling and legs kicking. The pain is more bearable.

When we swim we are moving the water and not allow the water to move us. 

That final goal is the Kingdom.

Lately, I have forgotten that this is why I am even in the pool.

To swim to Him.

I’m sick and tired of looking up to the sky as I tread.

I am done asking the Lord why He is not helping me.

 

What I should be doing is praying to Him for the courage to swim.

The courage to move my arms and legs in His direction.

Praying to Him for the strength to act.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to put your goggles on.

Take a deep breath.

Look forward.

And start swimming in the right direction.

So, when we go to bed at night exhausted. Crushed by the waves and the beating sun.We know deep in our hearts that we earned the tiredness.

That we did not stay put.

We looked at Him in the distance and whispered,

 

“I will never stop swimming.”

 

 

 

 

 

I’m in a Windex Commercial

A few years ago, I was late for a campus event.

At this event we were advertising for campus student organizations. As an officer in one of the groups it was important that I was there to talk with possible future members.

I felt bad that I wasn’t there on time so I started to do the half run/half walk motion. However, as I approached closer to the building I picked up my pace. I started to run.

I was a few feet from the building when…

BAM. 

 

All of a sudden I was laying on the ground. My head hurt and right above my eyebrow was swollen. I felt like I hit a force field.

Looking up, I saw a lot of people staring down at me. Many of which were trying hard not to laugh but definitely smirking.

I was so confused. I was embarrassed. I was disoriented.

What just happened?

Peering at the doorway, I realized that the doors were made of glass.

Wow. I was stupid.

I felt exactly like the guy in this windex commercial.

Click here.

I feel as though this story is very relatable to my life.

Our lives.

Often, we feel like we know where we are headed. We the see the prize. We see the destination so vividly.

Yet, then God sends us a wake up call.

He puts the glass door in our lives to remind us to slow down.

When we are running towards our earthly goals we are consumed in our desires. We neglect the fact that the journey is not about us but about the Creator.

The glass doors in our lives shape us morally. They bring us back on the spiritual path. They allow us to remember that we are only human.

In the moment it may be difficult to accept the glass doors in our lives.

When people are standing around you laughing at your fall.

When you feel like you cannot get up anymore.

When you are experiencing physical or mental pain. 

However, once you get up and dust yourself off you realize something.

You are still alive and well.

You are stronger because of it.

It was only glass.

Friends, I encourage you today to keep striving after Christ. Allow the bruises on your head from the glass doors to become your trophy.

With enough faith…

You will be able to run right through the glass.

In Christ all obstacles are shattered.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throw Me in the Furnace 

I’m struggling with something. 

And to be honest I never thought I was. 

In today’s society being a male comes with a lot of expectations. 

One of which is never being afraid. I have told myself my whole life that I am invincible, but deep down I know that is not the case. 

I was given a wake up call. Quite literally, the last few weeks. 

For about two weeks now, I have had numerous nightmares a night. Sometimes waking up in cold sweats. Sometimes trying to catch my breath. Sometimes immediately calling people I care about to calm me down. While I do hate nightmares, I am grateful because they have reminded me that I am not okay. My subconscious mind is restless and the dirtiness is rising to the surface. 

So what should I do now? Pray for courage. 

In Daniel 3 we see three men going against the King’s orders of worshipping the idol. They tell the King that if they are thrown in the furnace so be it. This is a Bible story that has always stuck with me since I was young. I think it has to do with the boldness. The ultimate trust. The three men’s ability to speak from their hearts. 

I think the coolest part of this whole story is not when the men say that God will save them, but rather that they will still love and serve the Lord even if He does not. 

Mic drop* 

How rad is that? They are so accepting of God’s will that courage naturally follows. They don’t have to ask for courage. It is right there waiting. 

I want me some of that. 

For courage to flow so easily from my mouth and my deeds. 

This isn’t to say I have no courage. I believe there have been moments in my life when I did not know where the courage came from. When I acted so quickly and without thought to do what is right. The point is I want that in every moment of my life. In order for that to happen courage needs to become a habit. 

This habit begins and ends with our relationship with the Lord. 

That was the part I was missing. I thought courage came from myself. Society has told me that all along. 

If you want to be courageous.

You need to be tough. 

You need to look fiere. 

You need to be physically strong. 

Friends, today I remind you that courage is a gift from God. A gift that only comes from our relationship with Him. 

Today I am asking God for courage to live my life according to His will. To not care what the people of the world tell me to do, say, or think. 

But to say back, “Throw me in the furnace. I am not afraid, for Christ is always with me.”

Don’t Miss the Boat 

I was at the port of Naples, Italy. My cousin and I had a boat to catch. I decided to bring my small Bible with me for the boat ride. Taking out the Bible in public is not something I often do. So I figured I would start to work on it. 

While I was reading, waiting for the ship, a man came up to ask which boat was sailing to the island of Capri. The destination my cousin and I were also going. I told him I thought it was the boat right in front of us but I was not sure. 

After twenty minutes I started to get nervous. The boat should be leaving in ten minutes why was there no line? Why were they still filling the boat in front of us with gas? The loudspeaker had come on minutes before but it was in Italian. The man who gave us our tickets also said we needed to stay where we were. 

I saw a line of people about a hundred yards away. I sprinted over there and asked one of the crew. Though he only spoke Italian I put together that this was the ship I needed to be on. Remembering the man back at the port I sprinted back.

 He was talking with another man when I interrupted. 

I said, “Our boats over there. It’s leaving now. It’s not this one. It’s over there.”

All of a sudden a bunch of people started surrounding me. None of them spoke English. I did the best that I could pointing to my ticket and saying, “Let’s go.”

The next scene felt like a movie. 

I was sprinting towards the distant boat while the others, who had been waiting for the wrong boat, followed right behind. All the while I had the Bible with me. 

Thankfully, we all made it on the boat just in time. 
While I was running I thought, 

This is what life is about! 
As Christians we are given the Gospel message. We are told the truth. We are given instructions on which is the right ship to take us to the Kingdom. 

Sharing the Gospel through our lives is key. We cannot forget that in order to share the Gospel we must approach people. We must use our spiritual gifts to connect and take action. The people waiting on the dock did not understand me. They spoke no English. Yet, they understood my actions. They understood I was once lost and nervous and now I felt security. Now I felt peace.
Knowing the truth through the Gospel does not make us better than anyone else. But it does make us responsible. 

We are all called to be on the ship headed to the island of Heaven. In order for that to be a reality we must not become comfortable. We must take the risk and run back to help. We must carry the message of truth with us wherever we go.  And just when we may think we are only showing one man, a crowd may follow in the pursuit. 

Everyone of us has the ticket in hand to the right ship.  

If we know where that ship rests, why leave our fellow man behind?