Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Battle

"Life's a fight of wrong, and right, thats tearing me apart, oh but what the cross has done! Well the world will try to battle for my heart, but the war, is already won."

Chris August, "Battle"

These last couple of months have seemed like a scene out of the movie 2012 to me. Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Tornados, all causing devastation. As someone who appreciates images as a way  of communicating the true emotion of something, I will totally agree that the images that come from the likes of Japan, Haiti (which has still not recovered, close to a year afterwards), Joplin Missouri,  and all the other parts of the South that have been hit are soul piercing. There are truly no words to describe the devastation. I don't know what it is that's hit me so hard this time. Maybe it's the fact a lot of my friends in the orphan world are down south and could have been affected by it. thankfully none of them have.

I find it a funny coincidence, however, that around this time a man who has tried twice before to predict the end of the world begins preaching it again. Now your opinion of Harold Camping is whatever you make of him, I'm not going to delve into his psyche or his personal life. But whether of his own doing or not, the timing of his latest prediction is impeccable. It would certainly seem like there are forces at work that want to convince those who don't know God's word (or maybe not as well as we should) that the apocalypse is upon us. And my answer is that of course it is. We're closer to it every day the earth turns.

Now I could easily continue rattling off depressing new stories and creepy, dark coincidences that pop up, because its just plain depressing.While we aren't all in the same war, almost the entire world is at war with each other or in itself. Libya, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq. Kenya, Rwanda, etc., I could go on. There are 147,000,000 Orphans in the world. BILLIONS of people are living in poverty.

But the truth is...

the battle for the world has already been fought. And God has won when he sent his Son to die on the cross for our sins and He conquered the grave for us.

Now I'm not recommending you kick your feet up in a lawn chair with an iced tea and a nice thick book and pretend like the world is perfect. It could be compared to a road trip, since this world is our journey to heaven: if you see someone alone on the side of the road or with a crummy car that breaks down every other mile, are you going to leave them there or help them along the way to their destination with comfort and Charity? It's the same here on earth. Are we going to just let our brothers an sisters who are less fortunate just live a poor life and let them die? Or are we going to help them along the way and show them God's Love and the place they will go when this life is over?

Indeed there is still much to be done to prepare for the coming of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, His Father, and the Holy Spirit, the Three in One. So work hard for the coming kingdom of Glory, and be encouraged, because you're working towards a glorious victory that has already been one for us :)

"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed"- Isaiah 53:5.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's Not Always the Big Things

I absolutely adore the book Do Hard Things. Alex and Brett Harris, twin brothers from a huge family (with brother Josh Harris being a big Chastity/purity speaker), just hit the nail on the head explaining how our Generation needs to rise up to higher moral standards and start living for God more. The book was full of great life lessons and stories of teens who have joined the Rebelution Challenge (the Harris Bros. Movement) and are making a difference. The one that sticks out most in my mind is a guy named Zach Hunter. He's this amazing guy (probably in his mid-20's by now) who at the extremely young age of twelve started nonprofit Loose Change to Loosen Chains, an organization centered on ending (or at least working to) modern-day slavery. At the age of only 16, he closed a concert for THE David Crowder Band with a talk on his outreach. Now, I'm going to have an opportunity to talk about Speaking for the Silent (my orphan ministry) this Summer in front of about 300 people, and just that scares the living tar out of me. I can't imagine talking in front of thousands! But my point is this: Zach hit the top notch and is changing the world, and he started out REALLY young.

I really LOVED reading those chapters. Chapters about teens who just got God's call for them and were jump-starting a new and improved generation of Jesus Lovers. It was awesome. But there was one chapter in the book I kind of just breezed by: one on taking joy in the little things in life. At the time I read the book, I was just trying to be a "good person" and showcase my Savior in the life I was living. So I don't think I realized the truly relevance of what it means to take joy in the "little things."

Now when I say little things, I don't mean the difference between raising 5 dollars or 5,000. I mean the difference between doing really meaningful things like fund raising, and taking the time to wash the dishes or watch your little siblings. It's not always easy or fun to take joy in dish-washing, right?

In a lot of ways, Speaking for the Silent has sky-rocketed beyond my highest expectations. Close to 100 combined followers between our Facebook and Blogger Feeds. Multiple caring advocates who I've connected with through it. I even have two adoptive families (one who's home and one who's just starting) who want to talk to me and get to know me. I LOVE the days when my entire schedule is blown because I get busy doing exciting things for/with/about these families. It gives me a feeling of purpose, like I'm really doing the work Jesus did on the Streets in Jerusalem and successfully accomplishing the mission I feel He gave me.

Then there are the days when things are kind of quieter. Schoolwork is all I have to do for the day. Honestly, I don't mind school that much. It's learning new things, right?

My "crux," though, if that's what you want to call it, is I absolutely despise Algebra. To get it done right I need a good hour or two, and it just drags. All I can think of is what I could be doing to further the cause I love. I could be out shooting pictures for some relaxation time. I honestly go from feeling like I am really making a difference to the feeling like I'm sitting around doing zip on the importance-o-meter. Honestly.

A little while back I heard Steven Curtis Chapman's new song, "Do Everything." The basis of the song is this: No matter what you're doing, so long as you do it for God's Glory it's worth it. As I listened, I realized that yes, doing Mission Work has for more relevance to me than learning how to undo 2nd-degree equations. But the little things are just as important as the big things, and they do matter, even if its only a little. I may not enjoy algebra, but I need it to pass High School, so I can go to College and get the tools I need to help these kids. And I truly believe that this principle can apply for just about any area if life.

So the next time you're doing some task you may not think is important, think again. You'd be surprised how it can wrap around and give glory to God in ways you'd never expect. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Laying Down Your Life for God

As Christians, I think we're all called to lay down our lives for God's Glory. That may mean enduring hardship, persecution, even death. But it's God's call to greatness. We're all called to do it in different ways. Some of us make artwork, like a graphic design, a photo, a website, etc., for our Church purposes. Some of us work with inner-city or under-privileged kids in the rough parts of town, a tough thing to do for sure (in my humble opinion). But nothing is quite as inspiring to me as laying down your entire life at God's hands, and using all your energy, day in, day out, to reach out to people and show them his love.

I had the privilege of seeing this climactic event occur in the lives of 9 young men at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. The event, you ask? Priestly Ordination.

Now let me give you a little background on what you have to do to become a priest. Firstly, you have tp respond to the call itself, which is a process in and of itself. while some guys feel it from childhood and just know from then on, most of us take a couple years to come around and fully answer it. It's not a popular choice. Priests are arguably one of the most criticized groups of people because of how they spend their lives and, more in a saddening way, because of the inappropriate actions of a few erratic priests.

Once you've taken the big first step of answering the call, you have anywhere from 6-8 (sometimes more) years of training. If you go in straight out of the gate from high School, you can normally be a priest by the time your 26/27 (depending on your birthday). If you've went to college, you only have about to train for about 6 years (because the first four years are getting a College philosophy degree).

Now for some of you, 8 years may seem like the blink of an eye, but for us young guys, its a long time. But once you get to that moment of completion, on the Altar at St. Patrick's (or the Cathedral of whatever Diocese you train for) I cannot tell you how radiant those 9 men looked walking up the aisle.

The service itself is actually pretty long: a whole 2 hours! You hardly realize it though. You can FEEL God in that place with you, singing over these 9 men with his angel choirs.

Just as amazing, however, is the level of trust,openness and willingness to do God's will these men so evidently possess. At one point, they literally prostrate themselves flat out on the floor, as an outward sign that they are laying their lives at God's feet. It is a truly beautiful thing to see. And what comes next exchanges the spiritual side of the priesthood for the human side: all 70+ priests come directly up to each of the newly Ordained and pray over them. and later, back at the Seminary (Priest training place) you are offered the opportunity to have each priest pray over you. Truly awe-inspiring

Below is a slideshow of pictures I took at the ordination! Enjoy!

Ordination 2011 Slideshow from Caleb Lococo on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

You Never Know

You could win the lottery tomorrow.

You never know.

A thought that passes through your head could turn into a world-changing movement.

You never know.

You could hear God speak to you tomorrow.

You never know.

All of these thoughts have run through my head in the last 24 hours. Alright, maybe that one about the lottery didn't, but you catch my drift. You never know what will happen in your life, and God has shown me that in the past two days.

Maybe it reaches even farther back than just the last two days. Maybe more like the last two months.

When I started Speaking for the Silent a couple months back, I had a couple of friends willing to support it, but I think most just didn't get it, didn't see my posts about it, or just didn't care. Did it annoy me that I couldn't find a support group among the people I called my "Friends?" Yes. But I new that I was doing something for God, and tough as it was, God would bring my friends around when the time was right if it was his will. did it always feel good? No. But I knew that deep down it was all about patience.

Things took a turn for the best in the weirdest way. A friend of mine posted a nice little hello on my Facebook wall, and I quickly signed on and started talking. As we talked, I mentioned all I had been trying to do to help orphans out. He suddenly took a profound interest in what I was talking about, and his eyes were opened wide to the plight of the voiceless that night.  He started supporting what  I was doing and asking to keep filled in on all things orphan.

Things only got weirder (in a God way) a couple days later when Speaking for the Silent's followers on blogger and Facebook began to spike. 5 people suddenly joined on. I put out a little request on my Facebook asking anyone who wanted to help orphans to like the page so we could maybe hit 50 followers. Shortly thereafter one of my friends who had been kind enough to support me from the beginning put out a request on his Facebook asking anyone of his friends who cared to like the page. Now, a little disclaimer: If you want to friend me on Facebook, I wholeheartedly invite you to. I love getting in touch with anyone who wants to have a nice chat. But because I am new and am very sensitive to not friending people who use obscenity or post inappropriate content, I don't friend someone because I just know them: I friend someone because they're genuine. My friend, however, has found a LOT of genuine people, 600 of 'em. compared to my little 40 friends. This was HUGE. We passed the 50 likes marker and busted through 60 as well. We're now sitting pretty at 68 combined followers on Facebook alone. And the amazing thing was that many of them were friends of mine. And they shared it with their friends. Ripple affect, to be sure.

In hindsight, all it took was trust in God and trust in the people I care about. And all of my impatience and annoyance was for naught. My point is, God HAS got great things in store for you. And its just a matter of waiting and trust. And in the end, you're friends may or may not come through for you. And if, like me, they do, then mazzeltoff! And if they don't, well, you have one awesome heavenly friend that's Liking every breath you take on earth :)