All I could think to do is pray. With hands laid, I cried initially out of hope, then out of spite; I cried because in that moment, I was angry. He cried because he still believed.
Swallowing his denial, he wanted to spend his last days in a room with a view of the grass and the trees. The simple beauty and adoration of God sustained his dying body. It’s unthinkable how sometimes the things so overlooked, so unimportant, and so seemingly irrelevant is truly all we have left in the end. In the end, it is only God, it has only been God, and it will always be God. It hasn’t hit me yet, either. But if I could be honest, this lesson I truly fear. Because I am beginning to understand the cost.
Ah, Mission’s Week. The celebration of selflessness and character. A time of testimony, recap videos, and the momentary period of time in which the participating youth and children join in with the ‘big church’ to join the pastor on stage for a round of heartfelt applause. Oh this is more than just a round of pats on the back. No, no, this is the thrilling and unanimous feeling of knowing that God is proud of us as a church and is happy that we were able to give our oh so abundant blessings to those who have little or none… right?
As was so adamantly stated in today’s painfully truthful sermon, we are wrong in believing that we- as missionaries and ambassadors- have ‘more.’ As if with Christ, we are somehow ‘better.’ As if through our works we are responsible for the task of ‘saving’ anyone in general, no. We are wrong in allowing this sense of subconscious pride to blind our perspective and perception of those we wish to share God’s love with. The fact is, we stand equally sinful (and equally saved) in the midst of a perfect God, and by no means are Christians entitled to boasting of some dominance in some ominous spiritual hierarchy.
How then shall we approach the mission’s field and fulfilling the great commission if not in the idea of solely giving to and serving the ‘less fortunate’ in an effort to reveal Christ’s love? The answer lies within the example of Jesus’ humility, how He viewed people and how the Gospel should direct the way we view people too. The apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Roman church that he is a ‘bondservant’ and is ‘obligated’ to his fellow man: Greeks and ‘barbarians,’ the rich and poor, the educated and primitive. A man at the service of all people completely and totally impartial to bias. As Christians, we need to adhere to this example as a means to be effective in spreading the news of redemption. Not only in the field of mission work, but as Christians in every environment, if we want to truly show God’s love to our fellow man, we need to allow the Gospel to change the way we view our fellow man. A view untainted by the stains of bias, personal preference, and even defensive retaliation: the view of a valued person in which Jesus loves and died for.
I lately have been discovering some very dangerous biases in my own life. In my line of work, I develop tons of professional relationships with a vast assortment of different people on a weekly basis. I subconsciously collect information based on my different experiences to identify patterns, and frequently conjure assumptions of people based on past experiences with people of similar background (which are oftentimes correct). My small collection of experiences have enabled me to develop blaring generalizations of individuals who even slightly match certain criteria and thus effects my behavior toward them in very different ways. Just being honest. I’ve realized that any sort of inconsistency of attitude and behavior towards anyone due to personal bias makes me completely hypocritical and ultimately ineffective as a Christian. At which case, any ‘love’ manifested towards people as a representation of God’s would be ‘conditional,’ and thus… well, not God’s.
As I reflect upon the life of Jesus and how He spent much of his ministry in building relationships with socially disreputable people, my twisted humanity makes me honestly wonder, “is Jesus faking His attitude of love toward them? He obviously has the absolute authority and right to be offended by these people.” …Yeaaaah, it’s pretty dumb of me to verbalize those thoughts out loud, but the answer is obviously “no.” Jesus’ perfect example of love towards others is legit, despite Him being God in the flesh in the midst of human losers (such as myself. And there’s my bias coming out again). If you need proof of His genuine love, look to the cross. You can’t fake dying for someone. Heh… Well…
Bias people such as myself are able to recognize bias in others (which is also very lame of me). Bear with me. By analyzing my own life, I’ve realized that many believers are plagued with my own pious bias and inaccurate assumptions of others as well. Nay, I feel we all to some extent have contorted perceptions of people in general that results in tons of problems; nobody’s perfect. How then does this benefit the Christian in sharing the Gospel when we approach others with a ‘holier than thou’ attitude? How are we able to sincerely build intentional relationships with people when we don’t even see them on the ‘same level’ as us? How do we love people when we view them as repulsive? When we approach with reproach? Honestly, we shouldn’t underestimate the power of viewing people as they truly are in Christ. I’d be safe to assume there are people who are dying for their person-hood and their very existence to be just… acknowledged, much lest viewed equal to anyone else. I know there’s people in this world who believe that they are worthless.
So let’s put it in perspective… if it’s hard for us to imagine how powerful and amazing it would be for a world to know the love of Christ, let’s start small and imagine how powerful it would be if we viewed people- or that one person- as Jesus views them: valuable… masterpieces… and worth dying for.
Let’s ask God to create in us eyes that view people as He does. Let’s get eye transplants.
your internet fast post really inspired me to fast from internet myself. it's been a large stumbling block in my life and I really want to do something about it but I don't have the strength to do it sometimes. but realizing how fruitful and beneficial it could be after reading your experience really makes me want to put away the internet for a while. thankyou NAK! :)
Praise God! Do what you must to keep Him centered. :D
I had cancelled my internet last week. Today, the internet at my apartment is finally disconnected. After several months of seeking guidance from the Lord, the decision became clear that this choice was absolutely necessary. Far too long has the internet combined with isolation been a consistent stumbling block and gateway to idolatry and all sorts of sin. I now must resort to using the internet in public locations.
This is day one of my internet fast and things so far have been great. This morning has been by far one of the most productive mornings of my entire life: I worked out, thoroughly cleaned my apartment, ended world hunger, and am now writing this blog post because I don’t really know what to do next (I might mention that I’m writing this on a blank word document to which I will be posting online later in the day when I go to the coffee shop)… I don’t have much to share just yet.
As I was packing and stowing away my desktop, monitor, and other computer accessories, I felt liberated; bundling up the tangled web of various computer wire spread across my desk and floor was as if I was gathering all my chains and throwing them away. I never realized how tight of a grip the internet and technology had upon my life until now. Day one. Yosh. Pray for me, please.
My internet goes down tomorrow! Next time you see me post, I will be at a Starbucks or a public place that has free wi-fi! For more information about why I have chosen to disconnect my internet, read my blog post by clicking the link to the blog post above!
Since I will have more time to focus on building better relationships with people, I will need to learn how to be a better, less awkward communicator. This is where you come in. I need your help! How do YOU open up opportunities to start conversations with casual friends or with random people?
Transitioning into Adulthood: What is 'Success,' Really?
For these past eight months I have been becoming more acquainted to the happy struggle of transitioning into independent adulthood. A concept once obsessively sought after as a teenager and young adult- and far too distant to be relevant as a young child- finally arriving at this place in life is kinda hard to get used to. For example, the world of finance doesn’t really hit you until you start paying your own bills. As a child, I always thought it was annoying how my mom would repeatedly remind me to conserve water and electricity, but now I hardly ever touch that thermostat and best believe my taps never drip.
As a fresh young immigrant assimilating in this strange land of independent adulthood, an alien to this new world, there are things that I am quickly beginning to discover. Here’s one of them.
“Success” might be relative.
Since I was a young child, I was brought up to believe that education is synonymous to work, work synonymous to finance, and finance synonymous to success. This logic is practical in its very essence and there is definitive truth to it in many regards. But as I worked toward this elusive success, I couldn’t help but to ask, “where in this equation does passion factor in?” What of the pursuit of God-given dreams and anointed callings? Truly, what is financial success without fulfillment and what can this definition of ‘success’ do to fix the heart? What is ‘success’ without God?
As I delved deeper into the realm of adulthood, I’ve noticed that this question becomes more consistently prominent as I see and experience first hand the ethos of my society driven by a ‘rat-race’ mentality: work to pay the bills, feed the kids, pay for tuition, buy what makes us happy, go on vacation, repeat. Don’t get me wrong, I believe work is a blessing from God, and it’s an awesome thing when your work is your passion, to enjoy the fruit of your labor, and perhaps paying the bills and raising children is supposed to be one’s mission. But I believe it’s dangerous when one’s pursuit of ‘success’ controls and dictates the course of one’s entire life and hinders true dreams to flourish. What if God calls you from your job, your livelihood, and your primary source of income to serve in some obscure and dangerous alleyway of the universe? Is this still considered “success?” It certainly doesn’t fit the equation I was taught. If trading in prestige and honor is the cost of being obedient, would you do it? In desperate search of a reference point, I am reminded of the twelve disciples. How they were called to leave their homes, their jobs, their families, everything to follow Jesus. What would that look like in the modern world? It’s difficult for me to conceptualize.
However, I’m not arguing that we should abandon our worldly possessions and fast in the hills; no. I do think there is still a responsible and sensible balance that we must achieve in order to do anything, especially what God calls for us to do. After all, you can’t chase the bread and cheese if your stomach ain’t got bread and cheese. I don’t believe there is wrongdoing in using a job to further one’s passion. But when measuring success, I am learning my definition of true success is measured by the underlying motives of the heart and the stewardship of your resources and is not measured by prestige, education, or financial gain. The book of Isaiah states that our demonstrations of righteousness are ‘filthy rags’ in the eyes of the Lord; if the Lord sees even our most righteous deeds as ‘filthy,’ how much more then does God view our worldly success? I think I’m starting to learn that when rooted in God’s will, your decisions don’t really have much impact, much lest they are really your decisions to begin with (hence “God’s Will”). I can say with confidence that I would rather be unsuccessfully fulfilled than successfully broken.
But back to a previous question and I still think about this often… if you are called by God to abandon everything you worked for to pursue something completely contrary, would that be wise? What are your thoughts? What is your definition of success?
The Bible says lot of pretty radical things, no? Jesus’ ministry alone was filled with extraordinarily deviant concepts and teachings that challenges- and downright offends- typical human ideals. Yet confronting these healthy convictions is at the crux of Christian living which serves as the ultimate underlying framework for the desired overall portrait of victory: obedience.
In this season of my life, I struggle deeply with a few core, chronic Spiritual issues that have been destroying my walk with Christ. With many seasons of pathetic attempts to flaunt and wield my strength in spiritual battle, I have repeatedly and stubbornly failed and discovered that I am deluded and useless; there is no victory without God, and no disease cured by fighting symptoms alone. With this obvious realization, I surrendered in prayer as to what step I needed to take. Just at the right moment, I realized that there are some battles that we must… flee from.
As an inherently prideful Christian man, I’ve learned that I haven’t quite yet fully grasped the Biblical definition of ‘manhood.’ I’ve read a few amazing books that paints very robust pictures of what it means to be a man after God’s own: he’s a fearless warrior that fights. But never did I find that running away from a battle was compatible with this picture. I guess that’s my own pride talking. I then realized that sometimes, true fighting could potentially mean surrendering; surrendering your own effort. Fleeing from your own ability. Running from yourself. Now I see it a bit differently: God’s men are called to be humble, and the true battle is against the one that resists our own surrender.
As many of you know, I moved away from my comfortable nest in Los Angeles to live out on my own for the first time in 23 years. I now take residence in the beautiful nowhere of Arkansas and frankly I love the isolation. So much to time create, pray, and learn. Yet alternately, isolation has proven time and again to provide a dangerous means for unaccounted secret sin. I love the negative space of life, but too much negative space could be dangerous. Though we try our best to keep our hands occupied with work- Christian guys, let’s admit- sometimes, being alone is unavoidable and obviously very difficult. The covert battle of fleshly desire and lust burns within the hearts of men everywhere, God’s men undoubtedly included and target all the more. Speaking as one who has fallen and stumbled pathetically an infinite amount of times, I plead in this day and age, in a world that seems to be spiraling out of control, it’s time to get radical… not in our fight, but in our surrender.
If there’s anyone that knows a thing about being radical, it’s Jesus. How does one apply His radical, Holy standard in the arena of facing this universal monstrosity of sexual lust in the body of Christ? Here is what I’ve discovered. Jesus says in the book of Matthew 5:29, “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” That’s pretty radical, bro! But wait, literally? We’re supposed to eviscerate our eyes? For years I’ve somewhat mulled over this verse and never quite fully understood the radical implication of it because of its far-fetched surface. After all, even a blind man could lust. Then the question surfaced, “what and where are my ‘eyes?’” I’ve come to conclude that within the context of this passage, the ‘eye’ is that which causes you to sin.
What is your ‘eye?’ What causes you to sin? Is it a tangible thing? Are they situations? People? Or maybe even thoughts? Brothers and sisters, we need to be honest with ourselves, and start taking some radical steps to pursue holiness by running away from the sources of sin. ”Flee from sexual immorality,” it says in the first letter to the Corinthians. Following Christ is not a ‘comfortable’ thing. It’s radical and revolutionary and it will cost us greatly as it did the rich man in Matthew 19; it may even cost our physical lives.
I pondered upon this question for a while and I have identified that my ‘eye’ is the internet. Therefore, I have cancelled my internet today and will no longer have internet in my home by next week and will be forced to utilize public locations for internet. For the first time ever, I’ve decided to fully apply this verse in my life. It’s finally time that I got a little more serious about surrender.
I write this post to encourage my brothers and sisters who struggle with lust or any other gripping sin and as a request to please help me by keeping me in your prayers. I will keep you all up to date with the things that God will show me through this radical step. Though I will not have internet at home, I will still have internet in public places during normal business hours and I will have a lot more flexibility to be able to connect, create, and build stronger relationships with you all. With such a major distraction removed in my life, I hope to become even more productive and active in answering people’s questions, writing, releasing new tracks, and even getting public live streams or Listening Party’s back up.
Oh, I feel I need to clarify one thing: separating yourself from the source of your sin should be but a supplement to a preexisting, healthy Spiritual lifestyle of sanctification of consistent and constant fellowship and living in daily community with God and with other believers. If there are other things we need to resolve before we take these steps, let’s resolve them first.
So I encourage you all: let’s ‘run away’ together and fight by surrendering. Let’s take a radical step in the right direction.
"Paranoid of the rejection, I’m a cloister with protection From uncoiling and confessing and avoiding any tension I rap with over-emphasis, deploying clever sentences And decoys to make the Truth sound less offensive And I’m sorry.”
Hear my latest free release, “Slaughter Silent” with an instrumental by Emancipator. Lyrics, foreword, and free download below:
FOREWORD: I wrote this song to address my fear and cowardice to speak the Truth in love. This is dedicated to my brothers and sisters who experience the same; may our fears be casted out in His perfect love.
LYRICS: It’s not a victory. Confession of my struggle I’m bereft of all the symptoms of expression, and it’s subtle I sum up all my fear with every sun up, every dusk I want to make it clear to you but end up saying nothing (James 1:22).
Swelling of the heart from a fear of pouring out With the telling of the stars and the moon is bloody now (Revelation 6:12) The Revelation moving, over Truth is steady looming The anathema that spreads into the center of womb (Psalm 51:5)
And it’s called “sin.” I was called to rip the clutches Of the substance that so easily entangles (Hebrews 12:1) and it ruptures Here am I, strangled, my ankles turning lavender The spirit of the air’s assassinating His ambassadors (Ephesians 2:2)
In the briefing, I was warned of the attacks And how it crouches at the door (Genesis 4:7) and how I practiced how to master it (Psalm 144:1) But now I’m captured and my feet are in the trap I was walking in the light (Psalm 119:105), then I started walking back
And it’s tragic.
Paranoid of the rejection, I’m a cloister with protection From uncoiling and confessing and avoiding any tension I rap with over-emphasis, deploying clever sentences And decoys to make the Truth sound less offensive
And I’m sorry. My mind is hardly rational But not enough to think that Truth is relative and casual Romans twelve warned bout conforming to the ‘pattern’ (Romans 12:2) But I’m fighting in a battle and I’m hiding in my ‘camo..’
Confronted by assailants, and I implement evasion; Simple conversation and I simply run away from them And honest, the conquest of sin is making obvious The strength of all my confidence in Him: I’ve been robbed! (John 10:10)
Such a calling! Cost of which makes me now anonymous The shock of full surrender gives a quiver how it crawls Up in the contour of the spine and on the top of every prominence A coward in the armor (Ephesians 6:10) now the armor’s the sarcophagus
Murder is occurring right before you Truth becomes a relative distortion Brothers and your sisters are destroyed By oppression and the sickness of the sin that we resort to.
Solo membership: feeding my self centeredness Feasting on this life (I Corinthians 15:32) until my feet become edematous I’ve taken every blessing and I turned it to a craving An addiction to the comfort and addiction to the lazy (Proverbs 26:13)
My mission is to fight, but I’m comfortable in fear This comfortable coercion got me covered from the tears The enemy advances at the door of every castle (I Peter 5:8-9) Sleeping with my ignorance sedated by these capsules (Proverbs 6:9)
My brethren are falling and they’re dying overseas To perpetuate the Gospel while I’m dying to be pleased Jesus, I need you, I scream for the Father, Silence ain’t golden… silence is slaughter! (Isaiah 53:7)
The enemy is taking it, I’m sick of saying nothing. He’s infiltrated cultures, every city, and every country Now it’s time to say something: a typical reminder But it’s ‘critical’ to fight: ‘four nine’s’ when we strike it
Say something! Murder is occurring right before you Say something! Truth becomes a relative distortion Say something! Brothers and your sisters are destroyed By oppression and the sickness of the sin that we resort to.
I'm a big fan, for years now really! I hope you've been very well. It's really great to see how far you've come and that you're a RN now. I was wondering, do you interpret most of the Bible literally, or rather, in a more conservative, orthodox way- or as something that is allegorically revelant to fit our modern life?
Thank you! And praise God.
Hm, that’s a pretty tricky question. I don’t feel that the terms ‘literal,’ ‘conservative,’ and ‘orthodox’ are accurate descriptions of my reading and interpretation of the Bible. Call it what you want, but I believe individual revelation is not an experience that every person identically shares; we are all uniquely designed, therefore we synthesize and integrate God’s Word differently. For example, two readers of the Bible may agree upon the virtue of a particular passage in Scripture, but could be applied and manifested in vastly differently ways. This is because I believe the Bible is God’s Word, and His personal Word is dynamic and speaks to the individual heart. Granted, there are absolute ‘black and white’ passages of Scripture that are not open for compromise and ambiguity. For example, take the letter of the Law and the ten commandments and such. These passages are very strict in their nature because they serve a certain purpose; the purpose of which in this case is to reveal to mankind their depravity in sin. These passages I suppose should be taken, as you say, “literally.”
However, because I believe God’s word is dynamic, living, and moving, it implies relevance… nay, necessity to every generation. I don’t believe we need to ‘modernize’ some archaic scripture in order to preserve its relevance. The Gospel is the ultimate standard and manual of life that transcends generations and time. I personally believe it reflects the timeless nature of God and His ingenious design of His human creation: regardless of the changing times and the shifting ideals of our age, the premise of our existence remains the same: we are fallen without God and we need Jesus. The Bible from cover to cover is all about that. And that will never change.
In summary, for me, I don’t think my style of reading the Bible is just ‘literal,’ ‘conservative’ or ‘orthodox;’ God’s Word is dynamic and personal. That’s like asking when I talk to my mom, do I interpret her dialogue literally, conservatively, or allegorically. Hehehe. This is a good question. I never quite thought of my own personal style of Biblical interpretation until now, quite frankly.
This is not really a question but I just want to thank you for all that you've done for me. The words you said brought me to tears but they also brought me to something even more beautiful in life. I wish I could tell you this in person. You saved my life and brought me closer to God. Thank you so very much! May God be with you on your journey and may success come your way.
Yo wassup NAK, big fan by the way. Being an openly Christian artist, how do you handle people who dont believe in God that make comments on your music? Personally I try to listen to all music and always keep an open mind. But I've noticed that there's a hand full of people who look down on anyone or thing that has to do with God. And on the other hand, I find people who look down on anyone not believing in God and cast you away. What are your thoughts on this?
I don’t necessarily view anyone differently because they do or do not believe in God. The ultimate goal is to follow the example of Jesus and love everyone regardless of their ideals. I admit, I do have my own personal biases, but part of becoming more like Christ is to relinquish these fears and factors that hinder us from forming relationships with people on a regular, consistent basis.
In response to your second concern, “looking down” upon anyone from any perspective whether it be believer upon non-believer or vice versa is usually fueled by superficial pride. Which leads me right back to my first response: the Jesus of the Bible- God manifested in flesh- didn’t necessarily ‘look down’ upon anyone. He is the ultimate example of the very opposite of pride- humility- in that He spent utmost time during His ministry on Earth reaching out to the repulsive, the outcast, and love-less: equivalent to individuals an ‘average’ person would look down upon today, I believe. The very fact He descended onto Earth to mingle with His human creation further demonstrates His humility. In summary, looking down upon anyone is usually skin deep and is fueled by pride. Who really is ‘better’ than anyone in the midst of an absolute and perfect God? It doesn’t get us anywhere in the end. What is needed most to perpetuate love in this world is relationships and becoming humble enough to realize that we need each other. Those are my thoughts.
Did you ever have any insecurities or or doubts about putting your music out there when you first started? If so, how did you overcome those fears? If not, what gave you the confidence to enter the hip-hop scene? Asked by Andrew K.
"When I first started?" I have insecurity and doubt putting music out now more so than ever. When I first started, I didn’t expect to gain an audience and my tracks were more towards ministering to myself. Therefore, I was hardly concerned about the opinions of listeners, critique, and receiving hatred. Now that I have a small following, I’m much more tactful and careful about the things I say and do and I’m frequently preoccupied of what people think of me. Never in my life have I been more self-conscious. To name an example, though I am very happy about the outcome of the upcoming ARTIFEX album, I’m especially worried about what people may think simply because my style has changed so drastically since my last release. I don’t take criticism very lightly and I’m rather weak at heart. But in addressing your second and third questions, though I’m weak, my confidence and strength is in Jesus and through Him, I don’t have any reason to be afraid.