exhaustion.

do you see , what i see –
a body , exhausted – almost lifeless.
can you feel what i feel , a point of surrender.
stripped , his body is unclothed and explicitly exposed
to the world , for the world to see.

beads of sweat dripped , traveled down the side of his face
rolled down his expanded ribcage , as he lay there.
and all people could do was walk passed , shake their head , some laughed.
as his body laid there , helpless , hopeless
in front of the world , for the world to see.

when you’ve got nothing left to live for , do you surrender?
do you give up , let go because you have nothing left to hold?
are you afraid of what they may say or think?
if you lay your life down before the world , even further , before the Lord?
in front of the world , for the world to see how
lifeless your life has been – now that you’ve discovered
you’ve got nothing else to live for.

he did.

break free.

I know, first hand, that there are a ton of things we as humans latch ourselves on to as if we are leeches, refusing to let go of something until we find that complete satisfaction.  We allow ourselves to be trapped and held captive by things that, in truth, have absolutely NO power over us (if we are saved).  For instance, our old dirt, bad breakups, guilt,  getting drunk, free sex, shame, pornography, even the churchy things like self-righteousness, “living right,” etc.  But in all honesty, there is freedom from these things.  A freedom that can’t be lost.  One that isn’t just felt. One that changes.

I can’t express how deeply sorrowful and deeply compassionate I feel towards people, and even myself, for living in emotional and mental prisons.  Where the prison guards, PORNOGRAPHY, GUILT, and SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS, walk back and forth passed your prison cell with a grimy sneer surfaced on their face because they know that you have absolutely no power to break free from their imprisonment.  All of our energy is invested in the things that are futile … we fall short of believing in the factual and fulfilling Prince of Peace who holds the key to that prison we stay cooped up in, dying.

After a while, those chains get too heavy.  You can make one collect call for the day,  will you choose to call Him?  Will you hear Him out?  Will you allow Him to bail you out, to pay the price for your freedom?  Or will you rest, quietly and comfortably as the days pass by and what left you have of your life begins to seep out of you?  What will you do when you hear Him on the other line saying, “You don’t have to do any work to break free from this bondage you’ve placed yourself in.  I’ll do it for you.  Just listen to me.  Just trust me.  Trust who I am.”  Will you believe?  Will you walk out of that cell and not look back?  What will you do?

Come join us as we venture through the book of Galatians starting June 2nd at Good Hope (3015 N. MacGregor Way) every Thursday night at 7 p.m.  My prayer is that our lives will not just be touched, but that they will change and that we will be freed from the prison we’ve been resting in for all our lives.  There is Someone who has power over all things on this earth.  He loves you so much that He wants to free you from death.  I hope to see you there.

working to death.

and he’s been working,
slaving and hustling to get paid
the wages that it takes to be
enslaved, shackled in chains.

back bent, bones brittle,
hour to hour he’s picking lustful
flowers and cottons coated in envy.
he works long, stomach empty
because he’s been missing out
on the Word that’s living.

while he’s working to do right and
to appear perfect on the outside,
he’s forgotten that, internally, his
body is expiring.

curdling and clumping like spoiled milk,
his body grows weary as he continues to
work his way to right standing with the
one he serves as Master.

little did he know, Master once was in
his place. Master took up those wages
and all the debts, He had paid.
Master was shackled in chains as a slave,
and had already picked all of his lustful and envious ways.

Master’s back was bent with brittle bones,
not to work Himself to death, but to pay the
wages of death – to put those wages to death.

Master did this to offer freedom to the people
like him, but to earn righteousness with the Master,
he didn’t see it as a sin.

“But I tell you, brother, the wages of sin is death, but
the free gift of Master is eternal life in Christ Jesus
our Lord.

Therefore, I declare you unemployed! You no longer
have to work, I AM giving you a choice!”

his guilt wouldn’t allow him to accept this
gift of Freedom – so he bore on his brittle back
all the wages death had promised and remained
enslaved as his Master watched over him saying,

“The debt, it’s already been paid.
Why must you continue to enslave
yourself?

Mission Trip: New Orleans.

After months of fundraising, faithful supporters and prayers, this past week, myself and 9 other people were gifted the opportunity to travel to the vibrant city of New Orleans on a mission trip hosted by Mission Lab of Vintage Church in Gentilly, New Orleans, LA.

We stayed at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and the accommodations were excellent.  Our days started early at 7 a.m. and ended around 11 p.m. with activities for every hour of every day.  We were fed some of the best meals each day and we were given the opportunity to hear a message from the pastor of the church and his friend every other night while we were there.  The theme of the messages were “Loving the City” with emphasis on our responsibilities as the church.

Throughout our week in New Orleans, we were taken around the city and we were assigned various evangelistic opportunities such as renewing a baseball field, sharing our faith on different campuses (University of New Orleans and Xavier University), giving to the displaced people in the downtown area, prayer walking in the Irish Channel (one of the highest crime areas in New Orleans), visiting the Lower Ninth Ward and much, much more.

Visiting the city, I assumed that my assignment from God would solely be spreading His Gospel of Salvation and drawing others closer to His goodness.  That was only one part of the assignment He had for me, and I can confidently say the same on behalf of those who went with me.  He revealed and taught to us that the church is NOT the building that we walk into and go out of.  Instead, the church is WHO WE ARE.  Missions is not some task to be accomplished on a checklist.  It is a desire from God to reach the souls of others and for Him to sanctify and teach the souls of ourselves.

We were greeted with all types of personalities in New Orleans and everyday came with a new surprise.  I expected nothing of what I experienced and it was a journey that God took us on to not only speak to others, but for Him to speak to us a message we take lightly: love your neighbors as you love yourself.

Here are a few photos from our week in New Orleans and you can find a day-to-day summary with more photos at this website: http://ratedh.tumblr.com.

We stopped on our way to New Orleans to get something to eat.  It’s true when they say everything is bigger in Texas!
Our first night of worship.

This was our first assignment: to dig bases on a baseball field.
We visited the University of New Orleans to share our faith with the students on campus and we teamed up with students from Xavier University and a school from Georgia.The man on the right was preaching the Gospel while the young man on the left spoke against it.
This is a teddy bear that was found in the debris after Hurricane Katrina.
French Quarters.People search everywhere for the truth.

This is the Super Dome.This is our dear friend Mike from Mission Lab telling us about the Irish Channel before we began our prayer walk.
This is Kirk Joseph, the son of trombonist Waldren”Frog” Joseph.  He was just sitting out on his porch as we approached him and he offered us water, encouraged us with the song “When the Saints Go Marching,” told us about his late father and prayed with us in his home.  Add him on Facebook! :)
This is Waldren Joseph, Kirk’s father.  He has a wall in the house.This is Ms. Kathy.  We saw her on the corner of a street cutting grass from the cracks of concrete.  She said she had worked in an office for so many years that any chance she gets to go outside, she takes it and she goes out to help clean up the community, in the Irish Channel.  Her prayer and many others were the same, that the violence would stop and that children would stop killing one another.
Getting ready to give baby wipes, water, snacks and prayer to the displaced people in the New Orleans downtown area.

This is Mickey.  He was such an encouraging inspiration.  He said that all he plays is Gospel music and people hate that he does it.  But because he knows what God has done for him in his life, he refuses to stop praising him through song!  He even played and sang a tune for us.
During some down time, we heard live music and the guys decided to take advantage of it by enjoying the music and dance with strangers that became friends.
the levees right before we entered the Lower Ninth Ward.
If you look closely, you can see rust on the white thing that is hanging on the pole – that is where the water surfaced during Hurricane Katrina – 16 ft.  This is in the Lower Ninth Ward where the hurricane did the most damage.
This was our lot to clean out!
This is Ms. Linda Jackson, the President of the Lower  Ninth Ward Homeowners Association.  She gave us our assignment as well as some background information on Katrina and the Lower Ninth Ward community.
As we were working hard, we were greeted by Stanley Stewart, a Katrina victim, who now has an incredible story to share with the world.  He invited us in to tell us his story.
Stanley Stewart is now a renown name with an inspiring story on the rebuilding of his home, of his future.  Visit his website here.
Our lot after a long time of hard work!!!  God gave us some strength because it was a tedious task under the sun!
In return, God sent the ice cream truck right down our street and we were TOO excited!!!
The next day, we visited Xavier University to share our faith with college students.
These are the students of the Impact group at Xavier that we teamed up with.  They were a great help!!!
We got to park and ride on a trolly that took us downtown!  It was the longest ride ever.  But we all got to talk to other people riding  the trolly about their experience in New Orleans.
Live music and good food!

Our last night out together in New Orleans!!!

deadly desires.

there is a difference between the desires of the Spirit and the desires of the flesh.

that is, one conceives Life, the other conceives death.

the more we submit to ourselves and

offer ourselves up as “living sacrifices” to the altar of ourselves,

the further we drown in the desires of our flesh and

we end up being suffocated to death by … death.

but the more we submit to Christ and

offer ourselves up as living sacrifices to the altar of our Savior,

the closer we are drawn to restoration and regeneration.

what pleasure do we really gain from becoming one, with ourselves?

there is no fulfillment in submitting to our fleshly desires because

we begin to search for new ways to complete a void that’s

too big and too wide for anything or anyone other than

the Creator of this universe, God.

will we continue to give in to the desires of our unsatisfying flesh

that seeks to lead you to death,

or our completely satisfied Savior,

who longs to witness you live, eternally?

which one will you choose?

dressed in darkness.

darkness fell over her and snatched the Light from her eyes, and from her heart. she didn’t know where she was or even how she got there. her ligaments moved like gelatin and her face fell nothing short of a frown. she had been here before, but it had been a long while.

darkness crawled into every vessel and every vein of her being. she moved slow, aimlessly through crowds of people who seemed to be alive, but were just as faded as she was. she felt the hollowness of the dark circulating through her brain, telling her and reminding her of every reckless act she committed, in her past. darkness drove her back to a place she once sat comfortably in and she became weightless. she was swept back in with ease.

darkness became her boogie man and spooked her with hopelessness and confusion. it rocked her to sleep with her eyes wide open and woke her up with her eyes sealed shut, in complete submission to the dark. she was a prisoner, a tenant in an establishment darkness formed inside of her own mind.

she fought long and hard to escape the passion darkness had for her. and that. was. the problem. she would not give up the fight against the darkness to allow the Light to intercede on her behalf. she believed in herself, without believing the Light in herself. she did not understand that she was not wrestling with flesh and blood but against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the forces of evil, the spirit of the eternal death that had already been defeated.  she was not mentally, physically, or spiritually equipped.

what happens to a person when they forget to take up the whole armor of God? when they forget to fasten themselves in the belt of truth and they forget to put on the breastplate of righteousness? and their shoes, when they forget to lace their feet with the readiness to stand firm and walk in the authority and assurance given by the gospel of peace?

what happens to the person who thinks their shield of faith is not solid and mighty enough to resist and extinguish the doubt and the lies that come from darkness? when the person forgets their helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit of God, the word of God that slices through the interrogation and damnation of the evil one? what happens when the prayer and supplication of a person reaches its most outstanding decline, ever?

they become a slave to the darkness. they begin to fight the battle and war themselves, frantically. then they reach a point of insanity, believing that change will come by doing the same thing they’ve been doing: refusing to dress themselves in the full armor that God has provided as a result of His faithful lovingkindness.

how long will we continue to reject the Light and live comfortably in this establishment that darkness has formed in our minds? dressing ourselves up in the dark, forgetting the Light shines on a wardrobe of protection and victory.

there is a Light that shines, special for you and me. let’s freely live IN it and not pay the price of death as a tenant in darkness. let’s not get dressed in the dark to fit in, but in the Light to shine.  dare to be different.

the friend.

his name is nathan. the stranger (read more here) that became a friend. we met again – november 6, 2010. he was still at the same park. i spotted him from a long distance. i was filled with excitement. the fact that he was still there and that i was going to get another opportunity to sit and talk with him.
my feet began to move speedily through the crowd of lawn chairs occupied by other tenants of the park, giving praises to God. there had been a park church service going on. finally, i was close enough and spoke his name excitedly, “nate! how are you!?” he responded with grief and sorrow coated all over his voice, “i’m ok.” i said, “do you remember me!? we met about four months ago!” he tilted his head to get a glimpse of who i was with his deep sea blue-green eyes and said, “no. not really.”
his body language had been one of discomfort and shame. i could tell he did not want to be bothered and he looked as if the world was on his shoulders. i was tempted to turn away from him, to continue on with my day but i couldn’t. i just couldn’t because the bond we shared on first meeting one another was amazing. i was certain that it was not in vain. so i probed him a little more, then simply asked if i could pray with him and for him and he said yes.
after prayer, his mood shifted into a completely new position. he said, “i do remember you! jasmine! right?” his words and reaction inspired tears that i withheld and a smile and i responded, “yes.” i was in awe and disbelief at the power of prayer and the way the Holy Spirit moves in situations as such. we carried a light conversation before we departed. i told him how beautiful his eyes were again and he said, “you said that last time and since then, you’ve been the only one to tell me that.”  i reminded him about the scripture that he had given me from his Bible and he said “here you go!” while handing me another page that was crumbled into his pocket as his daily read, genesis 20. he, then, took a photo with me and allowed me to take one of him. i have never felt this type of feeling before.
i remember, so vividly, when i treated God as if He was a stranger. as if He had no purpose in my life. i rejected him. turned away from him. and now, i am experiencing the transition of a stranger to a friend, He calls me friend. and i know how unworthy i am of it. yet, He still calls me friend.
if you would like to come out and experience the presence of those who we so often pass by on the streets because they look “unworthy of our attention,” please, come out on Saturday at 9 a.m. to feed those without a home and without a promised meal.  we will be meeting in front of the center of hope at Good Hope (3015 N. MacGregor Way -Houston, Tx  77004).

this is where strangers become ex-strangers. this is why i am inspired daily. because strangers don’t have to carry that badge for the rest of their lives if we just make an attempt to make them ex-strangers.

the stranger.

i met a stranger on may 6, 2010 – he was young.  he was handsome.  and it surprised me when he said that  he was homeless. he traveled to houston with no money, no shelter and no family. he was a tenant in the downtown park we visited to disperse lunches to the homeless. his spirit was lively, on first meeting him. he was without timidity and full of Joy. he had so much to say, as if he had been mute for months. he was vibrant and cheerful. he was a stranger.

in his possession were crumpled papers that were bound together by two staples. the layout and print of the pages appeared familiar to my memory. they were scriptures from a Bible he once owned. somehow, he was able to obtain and keep the middle pages of his Book. he had been reading isaiah 54 (the eternal covenant of peace), which he ended up giving to me, to keep. he wore a shirt that read “transformers: romans 12:2” and pictured on the shirt were transformers with a cross in hand. in my mind, he was a different breed – a stranger from a different breed.

it was amazing to me, you know, a homeless young man who had only a few pages left from his Bible, still made it a point to read it as often as possible. and he said that he reads it everyday, he reads what’s left of his Bible every single day. i stood in admiration because, even though i have a full Bible, it is hard for me to pick it up and read it faithfully, as he did. i was amazed and convicted all at once. he desired to be in his word as much as possible because as he said, “it’s all i have left.”

we spoke for a while and he had been pouring into me his life experiences and how he ended up where he was. i was in disbelief and wondered what his next step would be. i could not bring myself to ask but i was able to tell him how beautiful his deep sea blue eyes were to me. and when i said that, he was shocked. hesitated and then said, “thank you! i have never heard that before.” once we were ready to depart, he ran up to me and said, “take care of yourself. it was nice meeting you Jasmine.” i was shocked and asked, “how did you figure out my name?” he said, “i overheard you tell him.” i smiled with the deepest sincerity and said, “you take care of yourself as well. i hope to see you again.” he replied, “me too.”

this is the beginning of a story where strangers become ex-strangers. his name is nathan.

what’s Love?

February 15th, L.E.G.S. (Ladies Evolving by God’s Spirit) will be holding a special bible study on the topic of love and what love is. The bible study will be featuring a dynamic minister from Good Hope, Pastor Chris Clemons.

L.E.G.S. is an outreach ministry on the University of Houston campus that aims to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, primarily to young women on campus.  L.E.G.S. holds weekly bible studies on campus every Tuesday night in the UC – Spindletop Room.

The post-Valentine’s day bible study will be located at Cullen Community Center and will begin at 7:15 p.m. SHARP! If you are curious as to what people have to say about love in general and you want to give your own input, don’t be shy, COME OUT!

You are required to bring:

  • A Bible.
  • Pen and paper.
  • A friend.
  • Your crush.
  • Your valentine.
  • Your boyfriend/girlfriend.
  • An open heart and an open ear.

We hope to see you on Tuesday, February 15th at 7:15 p.m!!!

temporary king(s).

he was different, brighter than what i was used to.
sideburns long and thick, smile worth a million bucks.
he sang and danced to music he wrote to me saying,
“if i make you feel second best,
girl, i’m sorry i was blind.
you were always on my mind.
you were always. on. my. mind.”

but august 16 1977 A.D., his mind was buried
with his body and i escaped it and still felt
second best.

but then i met the king of pop who spoke
and sang to me differently.
he sang the most comforting words
a man could ever sing to me and made
promises no other man could keep,

“you are not alone,
i am here for you.
though you’re far away,
i am here to stay.”

but june 25, 2009 A.D. broke the promises
that he made to me and all his other lovers.
and i was broken until i met this king

who stood 6 ft. and 8 in. tall,
gave his city some raving popularity
and gave them a hope that seemed
supernatural, a hope based on his stats.
he said he’d never disappoint,
that he’d always do right by his team.
that he’d stay faithful to his city
no matter what others offered.

but july 9, 2010 A.D. came and
revealed his unfaithfulness, made him feel so rejected
and allegedly ruined his legacy, forcing him to ask himself
“what should i do?”
she fell in and out of love with
words that were faint and unfaithful.

then, she read a gripping love letter
written personally to her
by the King of all kings.
“my grace is sufficient and I will never
leave nor forsake you. I AM love and
be the branch, i’ll help you bear fruit,
simply hang on to Me, rely on Me and My words.
just trust in Me,
you will not search any further.
because My name is like no other,
I AM Jesus Christ.”
the difference between those three and this King,
they wore crowns of gold, He wore a crown of thorns.
He died for me.