I have to be honest that these first two months in Los Angeles have not been easy. For one, I am up in the valley and apparently “no one hires people from up there”. Second, I happen to live with six female college students who don’t speak a lick of English as they are all from the great land that owns us, China. Being from China you would think they would be at least a little tidy, but they are just like American college students in that they are filthy and apparently under the impression that a fairy is going to clean up after them. My biggest problem as of right now is parking in that I am not use to having to have cash on hand 24/7 to park and I happen to be out of cash at the moment. Dear State Farm Bank: Please send me my debit card, as it is of utmost importance that I receive it. I am also not use to pedestrians being everywhere so if you, a pedestrian, see a silver Impala please look before crossing because I am probably not even aware that you exist. On the bright side, I am finally starting to get a handle on navigating this giant city and as a result only make one wrong turn per trip, which is an improvement of gigantic proportions.
Boredom and lack of human interaction has also been a major problem in these first two months. As is being stuck in a hot, un-air conditioned house in the valley that could use some serious TLC. Moreover, I am facing the fact that I need income as medical bills keep arriving that I cannot pay. Adding to the boredom and impending financial doom is the fact that I am getting sober for the umpteenth time. Needless to say, I need something to give and I need it to give now. Unfortunately, I seem to be sending out resumes left and right and nobody seems to be interested. Moreover, those that are “interested” only seem to be interested in telling me that I need to “move to the city” or better yet “you need some experience before you can intern here”. Um, really? I thought internships were for experience and as a matter of fact, I am in the city! And for the love of God, the 405 is not that bad! Suck it up Lalians, Suck it up!
Any who, things got to the point that I felt like I was suppose to receive some sort of key in order to actually live here and without that key I would be doomed to wander the streets as a beggar. No matter how much I prayed or cried, nothing seemed to be changing. I felt locked out and I had no one to seek advice from and I didn’t know what to do so I did the only thing I could do… I unloaded all of this on the poor messianic pastor at the messianic synagogue I have been visiting and I did this unloading during the service. He, obviously having dealt with a bunch of crazy people in his life, asked if I had ever tried fasting and prayer. He said that whenever he needs a breakthrough in life, whether it is financial, relational, emotional or physical, he sets aside a day or a weekend to fast and pray. He told me that Yeshua, himself, in the seventeenth chapter of Matthew, told His disciples that some problems require fasting and prayer. As luck would have it, the congregation was having a day of breakthrough prayer and fasting the very next day. I assume you think I went. You would be wrong. I got scared at everyone trying to get me to go so I left the service as quickly as possible. I must have resembled a dear caught in headlights. Note to self: flight response is alive and kicking; fight response – not so much.
After I got home, I looked up Matthew chapter seventeen and found in verse twenty-one that Yeshua did indeed say that some things can only be conquered through prayer and fasting so I decided to do my own little version in the solitude and safety of my little rented room in the hot, sticky valley that everyone pretends doesn’t exist. Being that I have never done this before and being that I always have a bit of method to my madness, I decided to plan out my six hours of prayer and fasting… I’ve never done this before and thought a whole day was a little presumptive of myself.
Hour 1 (12-1pm) – Praise
Hour 2 (1-2pm) – Prayer
Hour 3 (2-3pm) – Praise
Hour 4 (3-4pm) – Scripture
Hour 5 (4-5pm) – Prayer
Hour 6 (5-6pm) – Praise
Okay, so maybe I did a lot more praising than I did praying, but due to a recent realization, I actually connect to God through praise much more than I connect through prayer. While, I could probably do a whole post on all that thought encompasses, it will not be done today.
I do have to say that the experience did not disappoint. I thought I was going to be bored. I thought I would not be able to concentrate or run out of things to say, but let me tell you that when the God of the Universe wants to talk, He has a way of commanding your attention beyond all of your human capabilities. I used the Praise & Worship channel on Pandora for my praise hours and actually found some songs and artists that I really enjoyed. As for the first hour of prayer… I began by telling my God and King my purpose for this time and explained in detail what I was feeling and what I felt I needed from Him. After that, I opened up the floor for Him to speak and well, let’s just say He relayed what He needed from me before He could give me what I claimed to so desperately want! I had recently taken a class entitled Actualizing Your Soul’s Goals with Mastin Kipp from The Daily Love, an online blog and community. In this class Mastin taught us the difference between goals and intentions and lead us through a series of exercises designed to bring out our own individual purposes for this life. By the end of the class everyone had a list of intentions, goals and grounded action steps to help them reach the goals that would bring true fulfillment. I have to say the class was awesome and I was immediately hit between the eyes with the realization of what was keeping me in a very unhealthy cyclical holding pattern from which I was desperate to break free. I thought the work from that class was done, but during the first hour of prayer God took all of my class work and went much, much deeper. I ended up spending the last thirty minutes of prayer completely re-writing my intentions, my purpose and something Mastin calls my Major Definite Purpose. I had gotten ahead of myself in the class and while the majority of what I wrote was and is true, I have work to do before I actually get there. AMAZING!
After the initial prayer hour, I continued with my itinerary until I came to the scripture hour. I actually didn’t have a clue as to what I was going to do with that hour. I suppose I was planning on looking up some verses on some particular topics I am struggling with but I ended up just asking God to guide me as I opened His book and He did. It seems He has some things to tell me about life and how one is to live life. He directed me to several scriptures, one of them being 1 Thessalonians where Paul talks to the new Christians regarding how they are to live their lives and why. He also led me to look over the Ten Commandments again. It seems as though God wanted to remind me that He has some advice on this thing called life and that it would be good for me to familiarize myself with such advice both on a physically practical level and on a mentally practical level.
And don’t think the hours of praise were a vacation either. I strained to really listen to and contemplate the meaning of the words I was singing and in those words I found God speaking loud and clear regarding many aspects of my life. It is interesting to note that I now feel that my own personal life purpose is to… “Be a blessing to everyone I meet by empowering myself so that I can empower others to live out their own individual purposes thereby sharing their own unique gifts with the world and making the world a better place by having done so.” … When I am so far from being a blessing in any sense of the word to any other human being on this planet. In simplest terms, I have a lot of transforming to do in terms of what I say and what I do blending into a recognizable harmony.
All in all, I am very happy with the outcome of my first ever day of prayer and fasting and feel it is a great way to reconnect with God, empower yourself when feeling vulnerable or need divine insight into a person or situation. It is especially useful for times when a breakthrough is needed. If the door is locked, go to the Person with the key… You know, the Person who created the door and the lock or at least allowed the lock to exist. Of course, the challenge is to keep your focus on God and His love and NOT on the end result because God will only give you that which you are ready to receive. Though you can be sure that He will reveal exactly what you need to cultivate in your life in order to be ready for that which you want.
As for me, I guess I was ready. Let’s just say that the giant door on the entertainment industry appears to now be unlocked. I have received a multitude of internship opportunities and am in the midst of the selection process as I type this post. On an even more pleasing note, I am beginning to receive interviews for paid positions within the industry too. Hopefully, I will land an offer soon and be well on my way to obtaining a place of my own in this land known as La la.
A Transforming Love
This might come off a bit conceited, but bear with me because those that know me, know that I am not the least bit of the sort. And with that said, I think the problem with America today is that we have a lot of Christians living in the infancy stage. They haven’t gotten to a point where they are able to be tolerant of others and not have it impact them and their faith in a negative way. I was once such a Christian and after some agnostic/Wicca years and a long rocky road back to God I can understand the ever-present right and the ever-present left of our society. I think the ultimate aim of a Christian is to represent Christ to the world. We are to live our lives as a testament to Him and His love. Unfortunately, many Christians find themselves doing the exact opposite even though they are blind to the fact. In order for one to be tolerant of others, one must be firmly rooted in their own beliefs and confident in their own preferences and choices regarding lifestyle. I firmly believe this is the biggest hurdle to why many Christians are not able to be tolerant of others beliefs or lack there of while still showing God’s love and acceptance while living a life of love and service to others. It takes a lot to be surrounded by those who don’t believe the same as you or live a lifestyle the same as you and still love and support them without loosing some of your own personal convictions. The simple truth is many of us are just weak when it comes to certain sins. I know that was my hang-up. Each of us has our own area of weakness. Some of us have trouble keeping our pants on while some of us have trouble telling the truth while some of us have trouble coveting the blessings of others. After all, to God, it is all sin. No hierarchy, just sin and it puts all of us on a level playing field whether we want to admit it or not. And don’t think I don’t realize that there are plenty of non-religious people that could use a good talking to… because for every infant Christian there is an infant non-religious zealot doing the exact same thing, but I cannot speak to them since I am no longer one of them.
God loves us where we are. He doesn’t require us to change who or what we are in order to receive His love. He takes us as we are and He slowly molds us into better human beings as we progress in our relationship with Him, our creator and sustainer. He sends the Holy Spirit to be the convicting force in our life. Our friends might support the notion, but it’s not their job to convict. Conviction belongs to the Holy Spirit. That’s why Yeshua said, “Those without sin shall cast the first stone.” He knew no one would be able to stand in judgment against another and instead they would be compelled to stand in love with that other human being.
My personal walk has held inside it a lot of scenic routes and I am thankful for these adventures as they not only help me better understand those with opposing beliefs, but they help me to firmly ground myself in my own beliefs as well. I’ve made no attempt to hide the fact that I once left God because of the church- hell; the church almost cost me my life. The reason being I once mistook the church and it’s leaders for being God, which they are not. The only convicting power on this planet is that of the Holy Spirit. I believe that our job as Christians is to be an example of the love of God for every human being on this planet. We are to tell others of His love and live that love out, but we are to leave the convicting and the changing of life or lifestyle to God. He can do it. He’s done it in every follower of Christ on this planet and He can do the same for every follower of Christ to come. It saddens me how so many of my brothers and sisters in Christ are so hard hearted to those a little different from themselves. Even when they admit to being full of sin they don’t seem to have any compassion for others nor care to find out why someone believes or acts the way they do. How can anyone impact another without even trying to understand where another is coming from or trying to imagine walking a mile in another’s shoes?
I come from a long line of southern pastors, but I have not always believed in the existence of God, but He never held it against me and even after I believed and decided for a time that I might have been wrong He still loved me. He was always standing beside me with arms wide open ready to welcome me home. And when I finally did come home, He didn’t scold me and He didn’t make me change into this person I was not – He just loved me and that’s what He asks of those who follow Him - to simply love others in the same way that He has loved each of us. We are all full of faults and a whole lot less than worthy than we would like to believe, but He accepted us as we are and we should do the same for everyone and especially those who have yet to find Him.
If you are a Christian looking to make an impact in this world I challenge you to just love people. Tell others of how much God loves them and follow it up with examples of how God proves His love to you everyday. If you want to push something, push an honest and ongoing conversation with the creator and sustainer of this universe. Be kind; treat people the way you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes… After all, Yeshua, himself, said everything rests on loving God first and then loving your neighbors as yourself. For He said there is no greater commandment than these. Yes, it is true that Christians need to step up and take back this country, but not in the way it is being propagated: For it is by our love for not only one another, but for all of mankind that we shall be known as His.