Encouragement, JustTalk, My Thoughts, relationships, testimonies

THE Most Powerful Redemption Story Ever

My family has been going through the “Avatar: The Last Airbender” series for family night. It’s been really fun, but more than that–it’s been very enlightening. And I’m not talking eastern mysticism. I mean truth. We recently finished the series, and this article is about a specific scene on the very last disc, so–I’ll only say this once–SPOILER ALERT!!!

 

Zuko was an amazing character. He was really childish at first. I didn’t like him–he didn’t even look cool with that ridiculous ponytail making his scar stick out like a sore thumb. But as the series went on, I grew to appreciate his pain and struggle, because it was relatable. He was meant to represent the very essence of the struggle between light and darkness, between good and evil. And, honestly, I think the writer(s) did a pretty good job with that. There’s not always an easy answer or a clear path. And we all have scars from past wounds. Usually from someone with our last name….The madness and mental instability, the pain and struggle–that’s relateable. Now, this story was made for children, so we can scream out the obvious right answer from the sidelines (like he can really hear us) and think of him as an idiot for choosing darkness–AGAIN. But, when we take a look at our own lives, when it is us on stage with everyone else on the sidelines, we realize that it’s not so easy to see the big picture. All we can see is what’s right in front of us. Everything else gets lost in the moment. We choose the dark far more often than Zuko, honestly. We are far more dual than we care to admit….

 

I have acted in plays before. I can tell you that there’s this funny feeling I get when I’m up on stage. It’s like my mind goes completely blank, and it’s only because I’ve carved my lines into my mind that I can remember them at all. Everything feels kinda hazy–like I’m doing everything on-the-fly. No practice, no prep, it’s all me in my bare nakedness, just winging it and hoping I don’t ruin everything. I can sit back and laugh at that now, because I’m not standing on a stage. Or, rather, because I don’t see the stage I’m standing on. Yet aren’t I doing the same exact thing every day of my life? I’m just flailing around, trying to get my lines right, messing things up A LOT, and just hoping that, in the end, it’ll all come together and touch the audience somehow. The world is my stage, and I’m a character in this play whether I want to be or not. If you watched my life, you could sit back and yell at me from the sidelines about what an idiotic decision I’m making and how it’s so obvious I should be doing something else (and, believe me, you’d be doing that a lot), but, like Zuko, I get lost in it all and I’m just trying to make it, struggling between the darkness and the light, never really understanding which one is going to satisfy me, even though the answer is obvious. In the end, though, like Zuko, I choose the light. But not before a lot of scars are made and a lot of people are hurt….

 

Despite Zuko’s folly, I grew to love him as a character. Sure, he WAS pretty childish, but remember he was still basically a child. He was terribly sorry for all he had done, but there was nothing he could do to make it right. His suffering would not make it right. Good works would not make it right. Correct philosophy could not fix the damage. What does one do when they kneel before the one they’ve hurt and there is nothing–NOTHING–they can do to fix it?

 

The answer is only that mercy is necessary. Because vengeance, violence, suffering–these things will not heal. They will only worsen the pain. So, the answer is obvious. You are at the victim’s mercy. Literally. You must be at their mercy. They have to let go of the past and grow something new in its place….

 

xpqnkkyzdu6gwrtmkfda

Screenshot_2017-05-12-23-28-00-1

And that moment, when Zuko knelt before his uncle, tears streaming down his face, begging Iroh to forgive him for all his foolishness–that moment as Iroh clutched Zuko tightly in his arms, tears streaming down his own face–that moment when Zuko was unworthy but found grace–it struck a chord with me. It resonated with my own heart. Because, there I was, kneeling before the One I had betrayed, the One who had loved me, cherished me, grown me, cared for me–I was kneeling before the One whom I had hurt the most, tears streaming down my face, begging for forgiveness–and I found grace. I could have wept. The moment was moving for me. It touched me deeply. This was no children’s tale. It is the story of every prodigal son who ever knelt before their Father figure and found grace. Countless lives, innumerable souls, all finding the same grace He extends freely to everyone who will take it. Because, like Uncle Iroh with Zuko, God loves us deeply and only wants what is best for us. He sits there by our side while we drive around madly on a wild goose chase, going a 100 miles an hour in the wrong direction, and He sighs, trying to steer us the other way. But we don’t listen. He stays with us as, time after time, we fail in our endeavors to bring satisfaction to our souls and honour to our name, and He tries to tell us the answer. But we don’t listen. He leaves us in silence as we fume and rage, trying to find our own way. He weeps with our weeping, rejoices for our small gains, and ever watches, heavily, as we choose darkness over and over again, betraying Him with our every step….And, after we have run our last mile, worn out all our efforts, and come to our wits’ end, He whispers to us softly the hard truth. It is then that the paths diverge….

 

Some of us, as Zuko did, will ultimately choose the light, and will come weeping before Him with all our shattered pieces, expecting all the well-deserved wrath to be poured out on us. But, instead, He wraps us up in His arms, weeping for our ultimate return to Him, cherishing our very being, though we’ve hurt Him more than we’ve hurt anyone else. He gives grace, and, ultimately, He will let us rule with Him in a new kingdom of prosperity and peace and love….

 

Yet others will be Azula, choosing the maddening darkness until their very last breath, and meeting the ultimate ruin of their own selves, because they would not heed the light. For all my lack of care for Azula throughout the series, in that last moment, when she is wailing and squalling like a small child, trapped and helpless, at her literal wits’ end, I had nothing but pity for her. I wanted to help her, but there was nothing left to help….

 

As for the Fire Lord, well….We know his end. His power will ultimately be taken away, to do no more harm to anyone ever again….

 

For now, I’m still on the stage. I’m still flailing and wandering. I’m still being clutched in my adoptive Father’s arms, still weeping because the pain is yet too near, the struggle yet too real. I am still often betraying Him, yet I find a neverending supply of grace. He has every right to be angry–to eliminate me–but He chooses to love and forgive me instead. And that brings healing. That brings redemption. Because of that, I am being made new. And this, my friend, is the greatest redemption story ever. 🙂

 

 

~Peeps~

 


***DISCLAIMER: Images used in this article are not mine! They are strictly the porperty of their original poster….***

 

 

Standard
Literature, My Thoughts, relationships

Not Empty Now

***MAJOR SPOILER ALERT***

-Do not read this unless you have read Little Women


 

Josephine March and Friedrich Bhaer (from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott) taught me something very important.

 

I was actually having a bit of quiet time with God and was listening to the song “Empty My Hands” by Tenth Avenue North when it all occurred to me. I was sitting there, begging God to empty my hands of junk: dreams, ambitions, and distractions. I wanted Him to empty my hands and fill me up with Him.

 

In Little Women, when Bhaer comes to Jo to ask her to marry him, the end of their conversation goes like this:

 

~”Ah! Thou gifest me such hope and courage, and I haf nothing to gif back but a full heart and these empty hands,” cried the professor, quite overcome.

 

Jo never, never would learn to be proper, for when he said that as they stood upon the steps, she just put both hands into his, whispering tenderly, “Not empty now,” and stooping down, kissed her Friedrich under the umbrella.~

 

I suppose it was because I was singing about empty hands that I thought about this particular happening (it is one of my favorite romance quotes), but a new view of this suddenly opened up to me. I realized what a beautiful picture this truly is of us and God. We are Friedrich Bhaer. We come to God so full of love and longing, and feeling so unworthy. We wish to give Him something in return for all His love and goodness, but we find only ourselves. We have nothing but full hearts and empty hands. Then God reaches down and places His hands in ours and tenderly whispers, “Not empty now….” He gives us Himself and then we are full. Full and overflowing. We are so overwhelmed by His offer that it only fills our hearts further with love. I am close to bursting….

 

In that moment, I realized that He defines ‘lover’. He is the Creator of romance, and He is far better than anything we could ask for or imagine. And I look up adoringly into His loving face and echo His reply, “No, not empty now, or ever…..”

 

Standard
My Thoughts

Words Unexpressed

I have been on a journey. I took a break to find out truth. And these are some thoughts that made me set aside my pen and stylus and think deeper on what it means to speak my mind. I do not know how much longer I will go without writing, but I feel I must take the time it takes to learn the lessons I must learn so that I can speak the words most needed and not simple ramblings without meaning. These are my words unexpressed:

 

 

“Underskin Warfare”

—————————-

 

 

The words won’t come to me.

The blank page stares back defiantly.

What do I seek here?

What is my purpose?

It is nothing but blubber.

I am desperate for a change

But can words speak to a cold, hardened heart?

I am speaking to plastic people,

Puppets in the most bizarre of plays.

Different faces, different fears,

All covered up neatly in our death masks.

And this is how we want to die?

 

But what is my purpose in speaking?

To condemn? To heal?

To redeem? To kill?

Am I speaking for the pride of it?

Am I speaking just to be heard?

If my purpose is so arrogantly simple,

So will be the fruit it reaps.

If my words are no more than vain babblings

Then I should never write again….

 

 

~Kegan Cook

9-12-16

 

——————————————————–

 

“The Sound of Silence”

——————————

 

 

They say that silence is cowardess,

A weakness in disguise,

A problem to overcome,

A deadly compromise.

 

But what if silence is the height of honor

And foolish babblings the cross of shame?

What if silence is discretion, wisdom,

And utterance merely want of fame?

 

‘Love and be silent.’

‘Tis the noblest you can do.

Move on and not be violent,

Let be what can be let.

 

And remember:

 

The sound of silence

Is the loudest

In the place where chatter

Is the norm.

 

 

~Kegan Cook

(8-14-16)

Standard
song lyrics, testimonies

Testimonies of the “Civilized” (Part 4)

 

So, we’ve seen all these testimonies, but what’s the answer? We gazed on God’s grace, and we’re ready. Ready to take action…But what actions do we take? What’s our response to it all? The answer is simple but not easy: Make war. Let’s see what our brother Tedashii has to say in “Make War” off his album “Identity Crisis”:

 

 

————————————————————————————————————-

 

[Intro: John Piper]

I hear so many Christians, murmuring…about their imperfections,

And their failures, and their addictions and their shortcomings—

And I see so little war! Murmur murmur murmur…

“Why am I this way?”

MAKE WAR!

 

——————————

 

[Verse 1:Tedashii]

Bang with me!

Bang Bang Ba-Bang with me!

Never playin’ games-man-cause this this thing can get frisky!

So man if you in Christ, take up your cross quickly!

Stand fearless on the frontline -Time to come with it (Ey!)

Do the right thing!

Wake up and let’s get it!

I ain’t even in the ring—they’re throwin’ bows like Riddick! (Who?)

Persistently attacking me—they even in the back of me!

Its either fight or loose your life,

And I can’t take this passively!

So what you think I’m bout to do?

I’m bout to do what I can do:

Trust the One who got me through and fight like it was after school!

Never giving up, steady standing on the battlefield!

Feet firm to the ground like I stepped on Chapel Hill!

Flesh feelin’ frisky, sin persuades and tempts me!

Satan cheers me on—guilt followed by conviction.

Its the same old trap, and we fall like we’re defenseless!

Work your senses, grow in wisdom,

Stand firm and be relentless!

 

——————————-

 

[Chorus: Tedashii & Flame]

I make WAAARRR!

Cause sin never sleeps!

Its got me in a trance—

You can see it in my dreams!

I make WAAARRR!

Man I beat my flesh- to the death!

Every breath like I beat my chest!

I make war!

Sun up,

I make war!

Sun down,

I make war!

Time in-

I make war!

Time out-

I make war!

Against lust

I make war!

Against pride

I make war!

Against me

I make war!

Till I die!

 

—————————

 

[Verse 2: Flame]

Do YOU even have a clue what happened to you when He died?

When that tomb got rolled?

When He rose in the sky?

I think we emphasize sin so much

That it makes us paralyzed

And glorify struggle so much

That it makes us terrified!

And DE-emphasize the fact that we have been sterilized

From our old lives and thus.

God, this ain’t never wise!

We gotta snap out of it—we ain’t in no straight jackets! (We free!)

When Jesus died, in our lives something strange happened!

He gave us power! Yeah, I know that we’re sinners.

But since He rose, He’s renewing the image of God in us!

Now we gotta start makin’ WAR!

Now we can start sayin’ “NO!”

To the fleshly impulses that Jesus Christ was paying for!

Now we can start taking the lead just like the Dalai Lama

And start going all out just like a suicide bomber!

Whatever the sin is, we gotta go go go harder!

By His grace, no time to waste—

Jus-jus-just like there’s no tomorrow!

 

——————————

 

[Chorus]

 

——————————

 

[Verse 3: Tedashii]

I’m a Christ REPPER-senter, finna stand and deliver!

A lot of my BE-lievers struggle with their agenda!

I drop this on a ADAT, just so you could come playback!

A hit to be encouraged that rocks you with truth from way back!

Listen to it asap!

Like you do a Lecrae track!

I’m spittin written visions to put on heads like a wave cap!

Sinning? Nah we don’t play that.

That’s the way that a slave acts!

I’m filled with the spirit and tell ’em dawg ‘this is payback!’

As you begin to copy the carbon copies of Christ

And conform to his written image you should be shining the light!

If you’re not, why is that?

Is it fear that’s been grippin’ you—cause you scared they’ll be dissin you,

Flippin’ birds while they spit at you?

If you’re not, why is that?

It don’t matter so bump it!

Perfect love cast out fear – He ain’t save us for nothin’!

This is a priviledge! (Priviledge)

Your life to give to Him! (Give to Him)

So stand firm for him dawg and lets get it in, uhh!

 

——————————–

 

[Chorus]

 

——————————–

 

I make WAAARRR!

 

 

————————————————————————————————————-

 

 

★DISCLAIMER: All images used on this blog are strictly copyrights of their owners. I do not claim credit/ownership for any images used here in my blog unless stated otherwise. If I have offended anyone by posting any images on my blog, please contact me via email and I will remove specified image(s) ASAP.

Standard
song lyrics, testimonies

Testimonies of the “Civilized” (Part 3)

I was going to suffice this series with Part 1 and 2, but as I was once again listening to music another night, I heard this song  (and one other) and thought it quaint for what we were talking about. This song is about what all of our testimonies really are: we’re just trying to make it. Yet it has some more specific insights into another part of the american culture. This is the truth of the matter: life is hard. Let us listen to what our brother Tedashi has to say–

————————————————————————————————————-

“Gotta Believe”

By: Tedashi

[Verse 1]

Folks having hard times,

Living in the world so cold.

Life dealt them cards now.

People trying hard not to fold-

Pressures their heart now,

Feels like they bout to explode!

While feeling down they asking, “Is this the life that I chose?”

It seems so unfair!

Man we just trying to survive!

But its like no one cares…

We living life just to die!

And when I come share

That Jesus cares about your life,

Their heart is hard–they disbelieve

And they filled with too much pride to cry out,

“LORD,

I surrender my all!” or cry

“LORD,

Will you answer my call?

Cause this life is not easy!

God, why I gotta be me?

It’s hard for me to trust cause when I do somebody leaves me!”

See, life without Christ is not life–it’s daydreaming

Day in and Day out,

I see people sitting, thinking, drinking tall–

Day in and Day out,

I see people sitting, thinking, drinking tall ounces,

Trying to figure out, “Why is this the way the ball bounces?”

——————–

[Hook:]

Everywhere I go, its still the same song:

Everybody getting by, trying to hold on

To a life that He gives,

Doubting who He is.

Don’t doubt! Don’t doubt!

You gotta believe!

(Repeat x2)

——————-

[Verse2]

LORD peep the hood child

Rocking Ones with an ice grill–

Folks say he should smile.

His mug’s mean cause life is!

He wants that good life–

A caddlac truck with nice rims.

And the culture says to get it–live like the thugs live!

A hustlers ambition

Since the day he was born.

I wished it was different!

Is this place really the norm?

So when I go witness,

God’s forgiveness seems foreign.

And his heart is dark–he disagrees and he’s filled with too much scorn to cry,

“LORD,

Will you take me as I am?” or cry,

“LORD,

Can you make me a new man?

Cause this life is so greasy!

God, why I gotta be me?!

Why can’t I be that dude I saw rapping on the tv?”

Questions by some who blind to the grace that freed me.

Day in and Day out,

I see people sitting, thinking, drinking tall–

Day in and Day out,

I see people sitting, thinking, drinking tall ounces,

Trying to figure out, “Why is this the way the ball bounces?”

————————

[Hook]

Everywhere I go, its still the same song;

Everybody getting by, trying to hold on

To a life that He gives,

Doubting who He is.

Don’t doubt! Don’t doubt!

You gotta believe!

(Repeat)

————————-

[Verse 3]

This world is gonn’ pass away!

So, LORD, my prayer is they get it!

You could probably come back today,

And a lot of these folks just might miss it!

Caught up in their worldly ways–

Not knowing they could change in an instance!

It just takes faith to get in this!

But it’s been replaced by religion.

So cats remain blind,

Thinking that their works just might save.

Some just stay high,

Thinking there’s no way You would take ’em,

Saying, “It’s a hard life!”

Complaining when I go witness, and

I ask them, “What if God did this so He could get your attention?

So you’d cry,

‘LORD,

I confess and believe!’

Or cry, ‘LORD,

I see it’s You that I need!’

Cause change is so hard,

And life is mean in these streets!

And it seems there is no God!

But see since Adam and Eve,

Mankind is so lost,

Confused on the path they should walk

And so…

Day in and Day out,

I see people sitting, thinking, drinking tall–

Day in and Day out,

I see people sitting, thinking, drinking tall ounces,

Trying to figure out, ‘Why is this the way the ball bounces?'”

———————————–

[Hook]

Everywhere I go, its still the same song:

Everybody getting by, trying to hold on

To a life that He gives,

Doubting who He is.

Don’t doubt! Don’t doubt!

You gotta believe!

(Repeat)

————————————————————————————————————-

★DISCLAIMER: All images used on this blog are strictly copyrights of their owners. I do not claim credit/ownership for any images used here in my blog unless stated otherwise. If I have offended anyone by posting any images on my blog, please contact me via email and I will remove specified image(s) ASAP.

Standard