Thursday, January 14, 2016
As Kanye's new track was blaring in my headphones, I began to reflect on the single most important thread between real friends. Friendships can be great for multiple reasons. Friends share several commonalities, interests, passions, etc. Friends can travel together. They can call each other when they are bored. They can text each other. They can keep each others' secrets. They can provide companionship and fun. Friendship is a gift from God. To call someone a friend is no casual thing. Acquaintances are not friends. Being friendly is not grounds for friendship, just as being happy is not grounds for joy.
To have a friend is to be rich. It is to be wealthy beyond measure. A person can be counted as lucky to find 4 or 5 in a lifetime.
But can friendship really be so elusive you ask? I mean don't you all have over 1,000 friends on Facebook? Don't you keep in touch with so many people? When you have a birthday party, won't at least 20 people show up? Our culture has reduced friendship into a word that requires the bare minimum. If we see each other 4 times a year, if we text twice a month, and if we love to catch up on each others' lives, we are friends. If you are charming enough or have a simple hobby, you can find one of these. While I am not belittling these efforts, I would hardly count this as friendship. While all these things are generally good, they do not measure up to what friendship is actually worth.
The single most important value in a friend, is someone who cares and loves beyond comfort and convenience. Another way of saying this, is someone who challenges you to live to your greatest potential; someone who is willing to sacrifice how they make you feel by pushing you; someone who is offended when you are living below your destiny; someone who lights a fire in your belly; someone who sees you in light of who God made you to be.
Imagine if you were friends with Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Mozart, Einstein, the apostle Paul, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Beethoven, Bach, or the list goes on. Now imagine if each of them worked at Walmart or Burger King (No offense to any of you that work there - just making a point). Imagine if you as their friend witnessed their greatness, but did not care to push them towards their calling. Imagine if years went by, and they continued to work at the local burger joint. Imagine if Michael Jordan kept working at a gas station in North Carolina. Imagine if Einstein listened to his teachers who said he would amount to nothing, and had friends who encouraged him to work at a bank that would give him a stable income.
What kind of friend are you? In America, I have noticed that good friends are considered people who are there to listen to you. Good friends tell you to make that big purchase or "be good to yourself." Good friends take your side. Good friends even throw parties for you. Good friends let you vent to them.
Is that really what friendship is? We are to love our friends. What better way to love your friend than to make it a part of your destiny, for them to reach theirs. Why would you be a star if you cannot hang out with friends that can make a constellation? Why would you press so hard, if your journey cannot set a fire in those around you? Today, if I told most of my friends that I quit music, they would probably let me do it. They would probably figure I know what is best, and continue to walk their merry way. They would dare not be offended or say anything to offend me. They would not lose sleep over it. They may pray and give me their well wishes. But I'm not sure it would bother them. I don't think most friends are capable of this. Take a deep breath.... Be honest..... Think about it.
Will we be a people that get pissed off when those around us are not living correctly? This does not give a license to presume or judge. But it gives us a license to feel and be moved. It gives us a license to challenge in LOVE. It gives us the opportunity to be all in - for ourselves, and our friends. I know what you are thinking: "How can we challenge those we love, when we ourselves have no clue how to assess what is right for us?" What I am suggesting has little to do with accuracy. It has nothing to do with what you must know for your friends, or your wisdom and discernment. This has to do with giving a damn. This has to do with loving beyond measure, and being a force to be dealt with. Are you a force, or are you a blob? Do people need to hold themselves accountable to you, or do you just go with the flow? When you are with your friends, can they count on you to sharpen them and not let you get away with mediocrity, or will you cradle them in their infantile state?
I want to be a friend that takes you as seriously as I take myself. I want to be a friend that gets disappointed when you are disappointed. I want to be a friend that prays for you with all my guts. I want to be a friend that treats my resources as your resources. I want my friends to be greater than me. I want you all to know God like me, and for me to want to know God like you. I want us all to win. I want us to teach each other, and not let our dreams dash to the floor. I don't need a friend that knows what is right, or has the best things to say. I need a friend that gets offended when I am living under 100%. I want a friend that does not focus on being friendly.
This post is dedicated to everyone that used to complain that I was never that friendly. You are right. I would rather be deadly. - Jeevo
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Today marks exactly 2.5 years since my wife and I agreed to love each other forever. To stand arm in arm in everything. To be each other's extension. To care for each other in ways that many deem humanly impossible - including us. As my pastor's very first words in our ceremony indicated, "Welcome to the greatest human impossibility - this is marriage."
This post is not going to be about our marriage per se. I am not a very open person, but when it comes to using my experience to help people, I will be as open as God allows me to be. Also, just because I speak vulnerably or "from my gut" as many like to say, do not get confused. Writing is not therapy for me. Neither do I need to express myself. I feel like I have to make these disclaimers in an emo, post-modern world that likes to "feel," and get to "know" people in strange ways. You will never know me. And you will not be close to me unless God and myself say you can. Sorry if this comes off arrogant - it is what it is.
Moving on -- :-)
When my wife and I got married, we entered into a relationship that made each other our greatest fans. We committed to being each other's greatest supporters. When you enter into this covenant, walls begin to break. Lies that you once believed fall apart. Vulnerability takes on a whole new meaning. Every insecurity, every fear, and every bit of self-consciousness has to be dealt with. In some sense, it is a beautiful shock. There is so much beauty in being exposed for exactly who you are, what you believe, and how all of your experiences have shaped you and developed your so called identity. Good and bad - Marriage is a picture of acceptance.
It is an amazing phenomenon to experience an Unconditional Supporter in God. Have you experienced support? It is great isn't it? To have people believe in you - wow. The more relevant question is, have you experienced perfect support? This type of affirmation and cheering can only come from the Divine. When you get married, you have a form of a physical manifestation of this - extremely imperfect, but a form nonetheless. Your spouse urges you to become the best version of yourself - consciously and unconsciously. My wife sees my most selfish version, and my most selfless one - and she has the ability to accept me as I am. She also has the ability to urge me towards transformation. She has the ability to push me towards greatness - not just for her or our family, but for my most basic purpose and destiny. The amazing thing is that no one else can do this. No one else can urge you in such a way, because no other earthly relationship enters into a Covenant.
Here is the thing that no one tells you when you become married:
Even though marriage is an applauded institution, you will experience something so strange that almost feels ironic. When you get married, the people around you will affirm you less and less. Friends of yours that used to be supporters, will begin to dwindle and waver in their support. People that you once deemed close will not be close. This is not a bad thing at all. It is just a strange thing. It is something that can catch you off guard.
The world around you assumes you are "set" once you get married. There is a pre-programmed notion in our society that connects completion to marriage. The assumption is that you are now completely loved and fully affirmed - therefore, you do not need encouragement and you do not need to be affirmed in ways you once were. Now my purpose in writing this is not to agree or disagree with this irony. However, it is absolutely what happens. This is why married couples can sometimes feel extremely isolated, because the world they once knew is so far from the one they are in now. We are all assuming creatures. We are all constantly trying to either push boundaries, or keep them. We are all coping with changes, experimenting, succeeding, and failing. This is completely fine. Do not look to your old world to affirm you. That portion of your life is done. You must run forward and not look back. You are on to bigger and better - and this my friends is a gross understatement.
The important thing to understand is that no matter how confident or self-assured you are, affirmation and encouragement are critical for your journey. No human being can go too far without experiencing the fullness of true affirmation. Marriage is a beautiful opportunity to be affirmed correctly, and without boundaries. There is no such thing as loving your spouse too much. You can love and spoil. You can be without restriction. You can assure and re-assure. You can correct and be corrected. You can fail and be forgiven. You can heal and be healed. The world around you will indeed stop affirming you. I promise it will happen. It is a way for you to grow stronger in your love and need for God, and the person who said "I do." Why does the world stop affirming you? I don't know. And honestly, I don't really think you should care. I believe it is ordained within the covenant. I believe it is a result of 2 becoming 1. I believe it is part of the offense that you chose each other, and you didn't choose anyone else. This is offensive to a world that wants you to choose them. This is disrespectful to a society that wants your attention. This is a slap in the face to a culture that promotes darkness, classless sexuality, multiple relationships, and the list goes on.
Marriage is defiant. It is radical. It is fiery. Whole marriages change the world. True fidelity and affirmation destroys evil. To love, and be loved. Peace, and much love to you - Jeevo.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
When you are young, a calculator contains the answers to all the questions. It is a shortcut, and an instantaneous replacement to your own brain. It is limitless in its capacity. It holds your answers, and you simply use it. Then you get older - the playing field changes. In Calculus, you are allowed to use your Calculator on all exams. Some exams are even open book! How simple this must be! As we all know, the honor of holding your fancy calculator diminishes triple-fold. What was once a holy-grail, becomes a useless technical advancement that could hardly spit out an answer if your life depended on it. The calculator is now a tool - not a lifeline. The calculator's use depends on you. You become the brain, the master, and the statistician. The calculator becomes your never-changing and static companion. It is as useful as you make it. It is as beautiful as your see it.
It is shocking when your default tools and strengths do not hold the same weight as before. It is a bleak turn of events when your "method to your madness" loses its logic, its flare, and its potency. Have you found yourself grasping for a knowledge that you knew before, only to come up bankrupt? Have you looked to your toolkit, only to find a dull blade and a broken ruler? This is our plight. We are fixated on outcomes and calculations that used to get us quite far. It used to be our compass - a consistent and predictable barometer for success. We used to be able to effortlessly go about our day, knowing that our level of input will dictate our pleasant output.
But the ones of great light and destiny are not allowed to rely on computations, theorems, and well-proved findings. The chosen ones are never a product of human algorithms. They know that the thing they are to accomplish cannot be manipulated or coerced. The Divine is not a faithful co-pilot. He is not a helper in the way that we generally define help. He is not the Gatorade or the extra energy boost that you need to reach your destination. He is not even your primary author.
He is not merely "in control." He in fact, is the plane itself. He is the sky. He is the galaxy in which your stars must align.
The Divine is the all-consuming fire who is not interested in being your chief of staff. In the Divine, you learn to work miracles. Being hidden in the Divine gives you the substance to become the Calculator itself. In a world full of A+B=C, I am on the lookout for A+B equaling far more than I could have ever imagined. If you have come to the end of your computations, then you have arrived at the greatest adventure of your life. If you have flat-lined in all your reasoning, mental prowess, and lifelong musings, then you are on the verge of Dreaming In Color. If you feel like everything you once knew no longer counts for very much, then you are now becoming the person you were always meant to be.
If all our computations were so useful, then why is the most pressed button on the Calculator the "C" button - the one that clears, and brings us back to 0. Peace, and much love to you - Jeevo.
Friday, May 2, 2014
Hello. My name is Jeevo, and I can be a hypocrite. We will get to this later. For now, here is everything that went wrong with my first debut at the House of Blues Los Angeles this past Wednesday night:
1) We had no real sound check
2) The sound guy played the wrong song for my intro, and my band and I completely acted out the first song on the fly :-)
3) We had pretty much no music in the monitors and I could only hear the drums, bass and some guitar to find my key
4) My volume was low in the main speakers generally, especially during the higher tempo, louder songs.
5) I asked for a wireless mic, and was told they couldn't provide one just before the show - for all performers, this is a big deal. I was holding a wire the entire show so I wouldn't trip over it.
We all know artists care about their work. This is nothing new. Everybody wants to give their best presentation of what they believe is their calling. But I am a hypocrite because I project the idea and spirit of trusting God to work everything for good, yet micromanage His game plan and critique every flaw that was not up to "my standard." Sure I can celebrate the victory and find joy in the midst - but after every artistic show of mine, I first ponder the ills - the wrongs - the mistakes - the untidiness. My default is not an altar of celebration and praise - it is an idol of my image - an idol that I quite frankly place above the celebration of a miracle.
This has been a flaw of mine since I have pursued music. It does not matter how powerful or amazing the show is - I still come away in a melancholy mood, wondering if what I did was anything of value. Wondering what I could have done better, or what flaws pricked every core of my being. Wondering if I have any business making quality music if I can't deliver with precision and excellence. Wondering if people were let down. Wondering if I had made them expect too much.
When you have a wife like mine, you cannot get away with living under your potential. You cannot sweep aside the things of the soul that are essential. She gently reminded me that my mindset was beneath the calling that God truly has for me. She gently exhorted me. She basically grabbed me outside of my quiet hole and brought to light something that I have casually dismissed for years. The remainder of this writing is a mix of what her words and God's conviction have forced me to wrestle with - I believe it is for you all as well - thus the transparency. B/c transparency in of itself is not worth that much, even if it's the cool emo thing to do.
When God does a work, it is not about you. It will involve you, but its outpouring and sheer grace is certainly not about you. We tend to lose our way even when He has His hand upon us. I began my set with "Dreaming in Color" - A cry of wanting to know what is right and wrong, but dealing with shades of grey while thinking in black and white. I then sang "Lost." A song about my very struggle of mistrust and anxiety. When Adam ate the apple, we all became susceptible to not trusting the greater works of God, whether we understand His methodology or not.
After I perform, even though I am well-equipped with the Spirit of God, I am unable to fully appreciate His glory in the midst of imperfections. I curve into myself, as if the purpose of the show was to glorify my music - as if God opening up the House of Blues was solely for my music career. It seems so elementary, but when people come to see you perform, you feel like you owe them your best. But really, my audience is One. My audience is also covered by the One. My audience is owned by the One. I belong to the One.
I was recently struck by the film "Heaven Is For Real." If we were completely certain that God will greet us after our death, how would we live our life now? How ridiculous would all our vain pursuits at ephemeral glory be? How unfulfilled is a life that seeks momentary glory, in the light of a God where the concept of glory was designed for?
This post is my first altar of praise. To publicly tell you all how grateful I am for the opportunity to perform at a great venue. I am so thankful for how many of you showed up, made noise, and "turned up." :-) Your energy was amazing, and the videos suggest that the sound was really good for the most part! Your enthusiasm suggests that it was a good show, despite how much I didn't want to write that last sentence. Your support and feedback have been incredible, and my band was on fire! Thank you.
Three years ago, I wrote a blog blasting everyone who didn't show up to a concert of mine. I do not regret that at all, and I meant every word. Three years later, I have nothing but love and excitement for all of you who could not make it to the House of Blues - b/c I know there will be more for you to all attend, and I know your time is all precious. I know that I am not needed by the people. My music is not necessary. God is necessary. I hold on to the shoes I wear to present the gospel of peace very loosely. At any moment He may ask me to remove the shoes of music (even my Red October Air Yeezys!) - or remove the shoes of performing - but from my sense, He's just making my feet cleaner. He is preparing you all for the exact shoe that will be fitted for your destinies. In every pursuit, may we build our altars of worship. May we build our remembrances of the great work He has done, and will continue to do throughout our lives. The same hand that builds praise, can also build an idol. Learn from my mistake. Fight against it. Don't be like me in this way.
Peace, and much love to you - your artist who is a work in progress - Jeevo.
Friday, January 31, 2014
Every so often, our work is required to go through fire. Fire in the very literal sense has 2 purposes - to either refine, or burn up. Coming into contact with fire must not be avoided - because whether you like it or not, the fire will find you. It will run after you. All things that are built on the foundation that came before us demands fire. I have found that the fire is the most painful and rewarding experience of my life. When I come into contact with fire, I am forced to let go of all my preconceived notions, ideas, and assumptions. When the fire finds me, the more I run, the more it engulfs me - into a maze that is truly inescapable.
When your work is put into the fire it never feels all that good. This is a common misconception because most people assume their work will outlast the fire. We have to be a people that are humble enough to allow things to burn up. We cannot be so full of pride to assume that our work is flawless. We cannot assume that what we have built is fireproof so to speak - tested and refined. In the end, our work will show itself to be refined, or burned up.
What is the fire? It comes in all forms. It comes in the form of time, opinions, self-doubt, misery, rejection, questions, memories, poor decisions, external circumstances, lost love, and the list goes on. The fire is anything that borderline kills you - that borderline makes you feel shattered and miserable. The fire is not meant to harm you, but it sure feels like it. When the fire comes, it is because you are loved by the Fire-Giver in a way that doesn't want you to waste time. In a way that wants you to have eternal impact. In a way that wants the things you build to come out better and more permanent. When you are in touch with fire and are not burned up, you shall receive a reward.
Most of us build things without foundations in mind. We make faulty assumptions about the foundation. We would rather build our own foundation and be so original that we originally fail. We want optimal results without being in touch with the foundation. We build lavish palaces on quicksand. We build amusement parks in the middle of the desert. We build in vain. The fire comes in to test all of this - not for the fire's sake - but for our sake. When things become visible, the Fire-Giver wants us to know whether our buildings will last. We are given second chances. The sooner the fire tests us out, the better our chances are at creating something that will last.
Many of us are in the midst of the fiery furnace. We are unsure if our creations are burned up, or still in the process of being tested. We must be very careful not to give up assuming our work is burned up. Wait until the fire has taken its course - THEN SEE WHAT IS LEFT. THEN FIND OUT IF IT IS REFINED, OR IF IT NEEDS TO BE REBUILT. Your fight has something to do with the refining of your product. Your character has plenty to do with the fire. Your inmost thoughts and heart have to engage with this fire. Your desires can change the result of the fire. It is not all left to the quality of what you built - it is also up to the quality of the builder. Put yourself in the fire with what you built - don't be afraid - don't be a passive investor. Rise with your ship or go down with it.
A friendly reminder on your journey - Don't play with fire.
Peace, and much love to you - Jeevo.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
When a virgin gets pregnant, she is typically no longer a virgin. What shame. What labeling. What a target for accusation and condemnation. Why would Jesus - the God Man - do such a thing? Why would He impose Himself, in all His wonder and splendor, on a poor virgin? Why would He risk ruining her identity - her image - her heritage - her reputation? Why would God be willing to ruin a girl's credibility in the midst of political and social turmoil?
We dare not call God intrusive. After all, the tidy manger and odor free manger is what sells. It is what the church and society has pitched for generations. If we keep Christmas at bay, and tame its wild and radical core, the masses can swallow a pill with its full cup of eggnog and holiday cheer. The baby Jesus in a manger is so cute. The night sky full of stars is glamorous. The picture perfect Inn is a lasting Hallmark tradition.
As Cornel West likes to describe his faith - "We must wrestle with the funk of things." Indeed. There is a funk of disappointment and mistrust that we must be willing to go into. The smelly manger must never be deodorized. Sadly, most people celebrate Christmas by suppressing every mediocre and disappointing thing of the year, and overcompensating in holiday cheer, festivities, clothes, and gifts. I would venture to say that over 95% of "strong men and women of faith" have completely missed Christmas, and have completely watered down the messiness of this baby Jesus - the Great Intruder.
Mary and Joseph were doing fine. They were engaged. They were in love. They had very little means, but had each other. The announcement of Jesus forming in Mary's womb would not only change human history, but it would change Mary's in a very intimate way. The perceived shame of being pregnant before marriage would have to get past her own thoughts. Then, it would have to get past her soon to be husband, Joseph. Then, it would have to get past her family - extended community - society - the world. There are phases to this intrusion. Jesus plants Himself in Mary. He then does damage control. An angel appears to Joseph, then to shepherds, wise men, and the rest is history. Jesus intrudes. But He makes provision for Himself. God violates us. He violates our paradigms, our way of life, our expectations, and our assumptions. He comes in and renovates our hearts, minds, and souls.
But He always makes provisions. He provides for His own plan. He sets things in motion that are beyond our human senses. When He makes a home in us, He works in dimensions that are far too great for us to even come to terms with. He justifies Himself. He tells the world what He is doing on our behalf. He speaks to the people in our lives that need explaining. He fights battles and wars that we don't even know. The Great Intruder Intrudes - but He does so in deep Humility - in deep Compassion - in Deep love. He intrudes because it is the nature of Immanuel.
God With Us.
God With Us changes everything. God With Us means He will join us in our miry pit. He will be our companion in the midst of extreme sorrow, unjustified doubt, and unforeseen poverty. God With Us will exalt us when we are at our lowest. God With Us will shepherd us when the pathway is so dark that we tremble at the thought of the next step. God With Us will disrupt our way for His greater way. Immanuel will be the Wonderful Counselor. He will trump political fragmentation, societal evils, racial injustice, deep inequity - all for His radical work in and through us. God With Us will form as a seed in a poor virgin - make no claim to fame - come into the world in such lowly circumstance - and make the entire world bow down. This is our God. This is God With Us. This is our Great Intruder.
Merry, Funky Christmas. Peace, and much love to you - Jeevo.
Monday, November 11, 2013
The elder brother is consistent. He remained with the father, true to their relationship, with fidelity and loyalty. He is responsible. He is noble. He is not moved by the temptations of his inheritance. But he is angered. He is upset that his selfish brother is being celebrated for his foolishness. He is hurt that he himself has never been celebrated for his righteousness - for his goodness - for his stability. Where is his reward? To what avail must he continue to be a good steward, with a good attitude and relationship with his father? What is his motivation to continue on his course, without having to be "lost and found?"
We come in all sizes and shapes of the prodigal. But we also come in similar dimensions of the elder brother. We are consistent with our Father. We try. We persevere in the work before us, and do it tirelessly - yet our reward is ambiguous. Our affirmation is hard to come by. Our consistency is never condemned - yet is never applauded either. We are the faithful servants. We want equity, and we want justice. We do not want much, but we want our measured allotment. We want our fair share.
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.............
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
There must be hope for the older son. The father loves them both - passionately, recklessly, and with the fullness of his fatherhood. The father pleads with the older son. He does not leave him out. He is upset that his son is not celebrating. The father goes out of the celebration and pursues the older son. The father believes the celebration is for the older son also. The celebration is not only just celebrating the younger son - but his "foundness." The fact that he is found and alive again is worth the celebration, and the older son is welcome into this celebration.
Even more radical and compelling, is the father's first statement to the older son - "You are always with me, and everything I have is yours." The older son is bitter while having always been with the father. Everything the father has belongs to the older son, but he is upset. He is entitled to everything, and has been with his father the entire time.
When our "prodigal brothers and sisters" receive their welcoming home celebrations, does it trump your inheritance? When the lost becomes found, does it take away from our consistency? The father reaffirms the elder son with what is true and certain. Everything he is and owns is still for the elder son as well. And the elder son was always with the father.
To be always with the Father is not the shorter end of the stick. We may think so because the fuss isn't about us. We like to be the center of the fuss don't we? We enjoy being the one celebrated - but can we be humble enough to be a part of the other celebration? - This is the core question. When the world is being applauded for their minimum and lackadaisical efforts, you never need to question your inheritance. Being always with the Father is a picture of Eternity. Everything belonging to you is a picture of the Kingdom of Heaven. The elder son is not being underrated or put to the side - the elder son is being lifted up. He is equipped with Divine Provision. He is being granted the keys to the impossible. His faithfulness is being accounted for, and his brother's return does not discount anything he has done for His father. His brother's return in fact has something very special for him - a celebration of the lost - a celebration that things can be returned - a celebration that things can be whole again - a celebration that is inclusive - a celebration that restoration is a fiery blaze of the Father's heart.
Being the elder son requires a desensitization of glamor. When you do not require celebration, you are engaging with the keys of heaven. You are being given the eyes to engage with the treasures of darkness. Your Father has always been with you. Everything that is His is yours. Now walk like the elder statesman that you are.
Peace, and much love to you - Jeevo.