Drawing Deeper – 15: Sing

Drawing Deeper” is a series I have been writing which candidly details the progression, triumphs, and (very hard) lessons I have been learning as I draw deeper into a more personal, more intimate relationship-based walk with God. It is meant to provide inspiration, encouragement, and accountability to both myself and to whoever finds these helpful. Below is the fifteenth entry in the series. God bless you, and thank you for reading!

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“But I will sing of Your power;
Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning;
For You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.
o You, O my Strength, I will sing praises;
For God is my defense, my God of mercy.”
(Psalm 59:15-17)

Lately God has been asking me to sing to Him… not in the sense of singing worship songs that I know, but to actually talk to Him through song.

Especially when I’m hurting.

When it feels like no one is there, and I’m going through a lot, God simply tells me to sing about how I feel and what I’m going through. Then to sing of His truth.

And so I do. Despite me feeling weird at first, it becomes the most comforting experience.

I sing unto Him. Through my depression, my loneliness, my hurt.

And He listens to me, transforms my heart, and cues the wellspring in my soul to come out through my eyes and heal me.

He uses the most insecure aspect of me — my singing voice — and turns that weakness into a perfecter of faith that declares His sovereignty over my life.

There are times, folks, where we have no one else to turn to but God. Sometimes he distances those close to us to illustrate that very purpose. It is a reminder done out of love, because He wants us to learn to talk to Him, to rely on Him… trust in Him. We need to lay hands on ourselves, encourage ourselves, and pray over our own lives, because sometimes no one is around to do it for us.

I’ve always wanted to sing better, anyway. And I do have a lot that I am going through. Perhaps the act of singing to Him is how God intends to answer my prayer? Well, I wouldn’t put it past Him.

The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.”
(Psalm 118:13)


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Drawing Deeper – 14: Closer (A Prayer)

Drawing Deeper” is a series I have been writing which candidly details the progression, triumphs, and (very hard) lessons I have been learning as I draw deeper into a more personal, more intimate relationship-based walk with God. It is meant to provide inspiration, encouragement, and accountability to both myself and to whoever finds these helpful. Below is the fourteenth entry in the series. God bless you, and thank you for reading!

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A lot of things have been thrown my way this past week alone. Almost not graduating, losing my credit card, falling ill… it’s only been two weeks, and I feel as lonely as ever.

But — I am unbelievably glad. Joyful, even. Because you were there. I felt you near. I cried out, and you came.

You listened. You let me weep. And you… and you… ah, who am I kidding? I can’t explain it.

It was all you, huh? You allowed this to happen. You orchestrated every circumstance, every moment, every decision.. so that I all I had left was you.

Well… thank you. So much.

I’ve never felt more alive, more like myself, than when I talk with you. The honesty and trust I am developing as I get to know you.. it is mind-blowing. Before there were ulterior motives. I read your promises and viewed you as the person I needed to please in order to gain them. But now… I don’t care. It doesn’t matter if you’ll give me my heart’s desires, I am just going to focus on delighting in you.

In an effort to beat the system, I’ve come face to face with the greatest love I have ever known. Your truth has stopped me in my tracks and brought me to my knees. And I am not going anywhere except in the places where your love calls.

The fact that you are near me at all is overwhelming, and I am moved to tears daily by what you have been delivering me through. Who am I that you answer my prayers? I have done nothing to deserve them. Yet.. you are blessing my life in so many ways that I cannot possibly count them all.

I am thankful beyond measure that you are in control. Though I am saddened you have distanced friendships, you have sprung forth newer ones that provide all I need and continue to amaze me. Forgive me if I ever question where you lead me.

For all I need is you. Your presence is enough. I will trust you, because you have  been faithful. I will be still and know… that you are God.

Drawing Deeper – 13: Breath

Drawing Deeper” is a series I have been writing which candidly details the progression, triumphs, and (very hard) lessons I have been learning as I draw deeper into a more personal, more intimate relationship-based walk with God. It is meant to provide inspiration, encouragement, and accountability to both myself and to whoever finds these helpful. Below is the thirteenth entry in the series. God bless you, and thank you for reading!

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A new level. New increase. It’s amazing. But reaching a new level with God requires more of him. Maintaining a deeper communication, a more intimate relationship level, requires us to depend on him even more.

And it makes sense – higher elevations require more breath.

My pursuit to grow in God, to grow with God, can be analogized to climbing a mountain. When I made my first genuine attempt to know God more during the middle of this summer, it was like I was at the base of this gigantic mountain. Where the heck do I even start? I wondered. I contemplated the proper footing, the proper technique, I took a step back to see how I would do it. But I realized that all I really was doing was procrastinating. I knew it’d be scary, I didn’t know what to expect… but I wanted it. So badly. My best friend told me that I needed to want God. I needed to want it more than anything else.

So with the encouragement of close friends around me, I did. And it was great! The first few steps were exhilarating. Progress was being made. I was encouraged.

Then it got harder.

I started getting busier with school, an internship, and other commitments. Not only that, but I started getting attacked. The temptations and lust started coming back. I needed God more than ever. So I got into a small group and found a church, and surrounded myself again with brothers and mentors. I barely escaped last semester alive, and I needed to come back home for the winter and recuperate.

Now I’m back in California. It’s 2011, and I need to be stronger. My relationship with God needs to be deeper. With the coming future, I need to stick close to Him and, most importantly, let him lead. I’ll be heading out and finding a job soon, and I need to make sure I’m where God wants me to be. I will fail if I do this on my own, on my own breath.

I depend on God for my very survival.

I don’t think I’m being too dramatic here. There is a very real enemy out there to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). The devil has been at it for a long time, and we’re going to need God more and more the closer we get to our destiny. Satan has tried to rob me of my joy and grip me into lust and depression the first day I came back here. If it were not for my network back home and my decision to be vulnerable with these trusted souls, I would not be writing this entry. I am indebted to them tremendously for getting me out of that rut. I’m closer with God now; and the devil hates that.

But I love it. I love getting to know my creator. I love getting to know Him again. I love how it’s in His hands, and all I have to do is follow. The higher I climb this mountain, the greater the reward, the greater the satisfaction, the greater the view… and the greater the fall.

I intend not to fall. If I do, I believe in God’s grace. I believe in the comfort and love my family and friends will give me. I believe in those relationships. I believe that God is good, no matter what he gives.. or takes.. away from me.

I will keep growing. I will keep moving forward. I will rely on His breath the higher up I go. And I am so thankful that He is the source of my strength. My joy.

Father, I thank you. This journey you have placed me on… this mountain you are making me climb… it is tough. But already I feel stronger. Already I feel that I’m drawing nearer to you. I know the higher I climb the more of you I need. This mountain.. it can represent my destiny, my relationship with you, or a trial you are leading me through to teach me how to cling onto you more. And I love you for that. Thank you for strengthening me, for teaching me how to depend on you. Thank you for my brothers and sisters, and for placing people around me so I don’t have to do this alone. I want to make you proud, and I want to stand with you one day, victorious, knowing that you were the one giving me breath all along. You are the air that I breathe. Please be there for my friends, my loved ones, my family. Give them your strength too. Help me draw nearer to you, God. I simply cannot do this without you.

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Drawing Deeper – 12: God’s Burden

Drawing Deeper” is a series I have been writing which candidly details the progression, triumphs, and (very hard) lessons I have been learning as I draw deeper into a more personal, more intimate relationship-based walk with God. It is meant to provide inspiration, encouragement, and accountability to both myself and to whoever finds these helpful. Below is the twelfth entry in the series. God bless you, and thank you for reading!

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“For my burden is easy and my yoke is light.”
(Matthew 11:30)

God. The Creator of everything. The author of our lives. The author.

He knows what’s coming. He knows what we’ll do. He knows what’s best.

On the other hand, I don’t know what’s coming. I don’t know what I’ll do next. And last time I checked, based on the decisions I’ve made, I don’t know what’s best.

But God does.

Isn’t that beautiful?

Why, then, is it so hard to follow God when we know this? Why is our “free will” inextricably linked to frequent and terrible decision-making?

I know it’s our flaws. I know it’s our sin. I know it’s Satan.

But… when I look back on the times when I’ve chosen God, when I chose to let go of everything.. they were the very moments where I felt — myself. That unexplainable warmth, that unexplainable comfort, those unexplainable tears, the relentless utterances of praise that burst forth from my lips.. those were the realest experiences I’ve ever had. It was free. And it was freeing.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
(Hebrews 12:1-2)

God’s will is stressful, tough, and difficult. But it’s perfect. All we need to traverse the path He has laid out before us is Him. He is all we need, and thankfully his burden is light, for what He asks us to do can be immensely difficult. Anything else we, by our own volition, choose to keep carrying will only hinder us from achieving His will for our lives. Most times, it becomes impossible.

It is inevitable that when we stray from the path of God, upon our return there will be attachments, hindrances, and vices we have picked up from our time in darkness. All that extra stuff we are holding onto is the only thing keeping us back from a perfectly designed relationship with God. It is what is keeping us from where He wants us to go. It can be immensely hard to let go, but I remember all the times where I finally did… and to this day I cannot believe the sheer love He has shown, the dark places He has delivered me from.

I am experiencing this struggle for deliverance even now. I am working through this and doing my best to just.. lay everything down. It is scary as heck, considering I don’t know the outcome of my future. But judging from what I’ve been through with and without God — I choose God. I want His burden instead. And I am SO thankful He’s willing to trade all my sorrows and shame for His joy.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
(Romans 12:2)

God, I want to view you as King over my life. I want to serve you and lay it down, all of it. You’ve seen the way I run my life, and I know you have better for me. I don’t want to do Your will just because there is some benefit for me; I just want to do it because I love you. Please please please shape that mentality in me. I’m tired of my own ulterior motives. I’m tired of pulling out the God card. I’m tired of all the showcasing. When it comes down to it, I just want to be near to you. I just want to talk with you, hear from you, make jokes with you, fight and struggle with you, knowing that I am getting closer to your heart. I want to follow you for the rest of my life, not just because you know what’s best but because I love you. Who you are is amazing, and I want to focus my entire life on what you want me to accomplish. Instill a passion to please you in my heart. I want to develop the character that pleases you. This season, while I’m in California, mold me into the man of God you want me to be. You are my Father, and you own me. I want to be your faithful Son. I want to make You proud. I love you.

Previous entries in the series:
11: The Homeless Man’s Prophecy
10: Relationship Ramblings

9: Stay With Me
8: Asking God First, and Letting Him Finish
7: God Will Disrupt Your Schedule
6: Lord of the Little Things
5: Submitting the Imagination
4: No, I Don’t Want To
3: Dealing With Our Love Story
2: What Should I Read?
1: The Choice

Drawing Deeper – 11: The Homeless Man’s Prophecy

Drawing Deeper” is a series I have been writing which candidly details the progression, triumphs, and (very hard) lessons I have been learning as I draw deeper into a more personal, more intimate relationship-based walk with God. It is meant to provide inspiration, encouragement, and accountability to both myself and to whoever finds these helpful. Below is the eleventh entry in the series. God bless you, and thank you for reading!

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Tonight I had the wonderful privilege to experience S.O.S. (Standing On Stone), a ministry here in Malibu that reaches out to the homeless community. Here, volunteers from Pepperdine and all over come to help serve food and talk with those who have no roof above their head — it’s truly a beautiful thing. I heard about it from my professor, who is a friend of the one who organizes it, and she recommended that we check SOS out as a possible topic idea for a paper we have coming up. While my motivations were academic, I soon found myself immersed in so much more.

While serving tray after tray of Shepherd’s Pie to all the homeless and volunteers, I couldn’t help but notice the sincere gratitude coming from so many of them. I have never been one to do service projects, and I have done embarrassingly little to help those in need.. but after a few conversations with them, I have come to conclude that these are wonderful, wonderful people, with just as much value than any other person — one’s misfortunes can never take away the worth of one’s life.

After dinner, Dan, the coordinator, stood in front of the crowd and asked for some good news. One man, Freddy, stated that he is quitting alcohol today, and will go into rehab for a year. A few more stated that they are still going strong with their sobriety. One man was thankful that today’s weather was beautiful. The air in this place had no judgment or condemnation, only love, clapping, and encouragement.

Following the praise reports, a fellow Pepperdine student went to the front with a guitar and led the crowd into three songs of worship. The experience was amazing.. I looked and saw people who have gone through enormous hardship, singing “Blessed Be Your Name” and “Mighty to Save.” I was in awe… and so thankful that there is a refuge like this for people without homes to worship in a house of God. I couldn’t help but realize my own blessings, and I thanked God so much for his provisions.

There was a group Bible study too, where the facilitator referred to passages about children and having a childlike faith. There were people who talked about how empty they were before finding God, how hopeless they were until they turned to Him, and other stories of repentance and delivery. I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed at how genuine and simple their faith was… even in the face of their circumstances. I look at their struggle and see the grace of God — these people know Him because He is providing for them every single day, keeping them alive and their spirits up somehow. They have a reason for thanking God staring at them in the face all the time, and they experience a dependency on Him every minute of their lives.

How many of us can say that we depend on God like that? With all the abundance that we are sitting on, when was the last time I thanked God for my car? For gas? For Jack-in-theBox whenever I want it? For a bed?

It was a huge wake-up call. We have a duty to care about the least of these people not because it’ll make us feel better, not because it’s the right thing to do, but because God loves them. They are His. And we can learn so much from them. But we need to be where they are. We need to dine with them at the same table. We have to love them because God loves them. We need to love our neighbor because God loves them, and if we love God to the degree we say we do, then actions like this need to happen.

Interestingly enough, afterwards I got a chance to speak with Freddie, the man who is going to rehab. He was pretty drunk, and he had a slightly warped view of the afterlife, but he, out-of-the-blue, told me that I was going to be a great singer in the church one day, and that I would lead a thousand people to Christ without even realizing it. “Just you wait,” he told me. Now, I’m pretty insecure about my voice, and I consider it the most deficient aspect of my musicality.. and God knows I feel ashamed about the way I sound. Freddie didn’t know that. But he said that I’d be a great singer. And it encouraged me. Sure, he was a little drunk, and it may be a false prophecy, but it certainly caught me by surprise. And I will definitely be bringing it before God to see whether it was truly from Him or not… But regardless, what a uniquely awesome way to end the night!

God, it was so great to be with your people, the least of these, the ones so many neglect. God, thank you for opening my eyes and my heart to see the worth and greatness in those who have encountered such harrowing misfortune.. may you continue to be with them and care for them, and use us to love them. Be with them to break their addictions, give them hope, and secure their future in you, God. I thank you so much for their lives and how you use the ones we least expect to deliver the greatest encouragement. Thank you so much Lord. I love you.


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Previous entries in the series:Previous entries in the series:
10: Relationship Ramblings
9: Stay With Me
8: Asking God First, and Letting Him Finish
7: God Will Disrupt Your Schedule
6: Lord of the Little Things
5: Submitting the Imagination
4: No, I Don’t Want To
3: Dealing With Our Love Story
2: What Should I Read?
1: The Choice

Drawing Deeper – 10: Relationship Ramblings

Drawing Deeper” is a series I have been writing which candidly details the progression, triumphs, and (very hard) lessons I have been learning as I draw deeper into a more personal, more intimate relationship-based walk with God. It is meant to provide inspiration, encouragement, and accountability to both myself and to whoever finds these helpful. Below is the tenth entry in the series. God bless you, and thank you for reading!

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What are you up to God?

Currently, I feel like some relationships are slipping away. I don’t know if it is you making space for relationships I am meant to build here, or if I’m supposed to fight for certain ones.

Truthfully, I don’t know.

God, you know that certain relationships are very important to me, and maybe they’re taking time and focus away from you? If that is the case, then forgive me.

My paranoia and predisposition towards feeling loneliness don’t help either. But I’m trying to trust you, God. I really am.

Maybe I need to not try so hard to keep in touch.. to stop trying to touch base with them as if they’re near me.

It doesn’t make sense to me, God. My brothers and sisters back home are pretty much the only ones right now who are keeping me in line with my walk in you. Are their intermittent responses a sign to cease? A sign to focus on what you have for me here? Am I too loyal to them to let go?

And my friends here.. those who do not know you the way I do.. how am I supposed to manage them?

You make all things new, you make things better.. these are promises I am clinging onto desperately. There’s nothing else I can do.

Maybe that’s all I need to do… trust.

I have never allowed you to be Lord over my friendships… my relationships. Could you please help me let go control? Even if it means letting go of them? Will it only be for a period of time? Do you have other things, other people, in mind?

Or do I pick up my sword and fight to keep them? To remain unconditional and consistent, never faltering in showing them that I will never let distance allow me to forget them, regardless of feedback?

Stay with me on this, God. Let me do your will. Let my life reflect your will. Let who I talk to reflect your will. Be with me. I believe that I am not lonely. I break that lie in Jesus’ name. I believe in your truth and your truth alone. Prune me and the things and people in my life so that I may remain in you. Be my strength in this time. Help me trust in the unseen, unnerving, yet amazing things you are about to do. I renounce you spirit of deceit, go and begone in Jesus’ name. I renounce you spirit of loneliness, leave this place in Jesus’ name. I renounce you spirit of DISCOURAGEMENT. You have no power over me. Begone in Jesus’ name. Cleanse and sanctify my soul, God. Make it whole and make it a holy dwelling place for you to remain. I love you, thank you for listening. Thank you for exposing your truth in me. Thank you for uplifting me. I am in awe of who you are. Amen.

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Previous entries in the series:
9: Stay With Me
8: Asking God First, and Letting Him Finish
7: God Will Disrupt Your Schedule
6: Lord of the Little Things
5: Submitting the Imagination
4: No, I Don’t Want To
3: Dealing With Our Love Story
2: What Should I Read?
1: The Choice

Drawing Deeper – 9: Stay With Me

Drawing Deeper” is a series I have been writing which candidly details the progression, triumphs, and (very hard) lessons I have been learning as I draw deeper into a more personal, more intimate relationship-based walk with God. It is meant to provide inspiration, encouragement, and accountability to both myself and to whoever finds these helpful. Below is the ninth entry in the series. God bless you, and thank you for reading!

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There are certain people in my life who I love just being around. That is, I am content and comforted just by knowing that they are there. For example, when I’m online and I see my friend Nicole, a wonderful friend who is changing lives up in Canada, immediately my spirit is uplifted and I feel happier, even if we don’t talk at all. Simply seeing her name online is enough for me.

Now, ofcourse, here is where the focus shifts and the above example is applied to a relationship with God. So here it goes:

We have to treat God the same way.

Biblically and theologically we know that God is there. He is present and forever among us, neither leaving nor forsaken his children (Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5). That needs to be enough for us. That should be enough for us.

But sometimes… it just isn’t. Isn’t it?

I’ve felt God so far away before, and it really, or lack of better words, sucked. I felt so lost. So lonely. And while intellectually I knew he was supposed to still be there, to me he wasn’t. I read those passages, but I didn’t believe it. So what happened? Why don’t I feel like God is near? Why can’t I see him online?

It’s because I have made a subtle agreement in my heart that he is not there.

In these moments of despair and desperation, it is crucial that we don’t make agreements with the lies of the enemy. And as I mentioned before, he does not fight fair. He attacks us when we are vulnerable. He is dirty like that, and we have to deal with it. So when I endured that heart-wrenching breakup back in the Spring of 2009, I unwittingly, in my despair and state of pity, came to a conclusion in my heart that I am all alone in my suffering, and that God too has left me.

I made an agreement with the enemy. That became his stronghold that prevented my return to and desire for intimacy with God.

So how do I break those agreements? You break them with the word of God. You use the Bible.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

What I needed to do was hold steadfast to what God says in his word. So I said: God, you said that you won’t leave me or forsake me. That what you said! I choose to believe these words now, despite what I am feeling right now. Please God, draw near to me. I need you. Stay with me.

Stay with me.

That’s the wonder of God. You don’t have to wait for him to sign onto facebook. You can just ask him to come. You can just talk to him, and be comforted in the fact that he is listening and recording all your prayers. You can just ask God to stay with you. And he will. He wants to. And he will never leave.

Try it for yourself. When you are about to go into something you know will be difficult, ask him to stay with you.

For me, I am learning to ask God to stay with me in the midst of tough situations. Currently I am dealing with finding a new place to stay for the year, and nothing is currently working out. On top of that, I am dealing with a hectic last week of summerschool. Let me tell you, I have been feeling loads of stress, and I have already broke down in tears and anger on multiple occasions. But thanks to what I have learned through Walking With God and my experiences last year, I prevented myself from making subtle agreements with hopelessness and the desire to give up. I felt the pressure to believe that nothing it going to work out. But I refused and resisted those lies, instead clinging onto this passage from Philippians:

“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 (HCSB)

So what did I do? I prayed. I called my brothers and sisters and asked them to pray. I asked God to be with me, to stay with me through this.

God, I need you right now. I refuse to believe the lies of the enemy, and I invite you now to be with me in this. Please forgive me for not including you from the very beginning, but now, at this very moment, I ask you to stay with me, God. Speak to me on this issue. Thank you for my family and my brothers and sisters in Christ who are interceding for me and my roommates at this time. Bless them as well. I lift up my housing situation to you, and I lift up my school work to you. Give me strength, guidance, and peace of mind to overcome these obstacles. Let me succeed and excel through your grace and providence alone. Stay with me at all times, and be near to protect me. I bring the fullness of your work into this situation, and I cover it in your blood and your will. I love you Lord, thank you. This I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

The result? He allowed his peace to flow through me, and I have ceased worrying about it, resting in God’s providence. I am now able to focus on school and fulfill my role as a student, knowing that God is working behind the scenes on my behalf, aligning divine appointments for me. We have a showing tomorrow, in fact, and right now it looks to be the best house yet that meets all our requirements! Hopefully it goes well. But even if it doesn’t, it’s still okay. God is still here. And that alone is enough for me.

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Previous entries in the series:
8: Asking God First, and Letting Him Finish
7: God Will Disrupt Your Schedule
6: Lord of the Little Things
5: Submitting the Imagination
4: No, I Don’t Want To
3: Dealing With Our Love Story
2: What Should I Read?
1: The Choice