“Tonight shakes exhaustion through forearmed ribs. That tired pain that makes its way through spine curls with dumbfounding pace rains vertical through me. I think, I think, I think, I think to expect a damn big-big for the abandoned things. I expect two gold coins in life exchanged. Bios. She gave her scarcity in a bare clink. So as too with does mine. Goodbye. Adios. Farewell. Amen. Selah. Morning, I dare you.”—Christian Deadbrook
“I find any man who takes full credit for the scramblings he commits to a page to be a fool. This book is the product of Grace. Should any words which lie within these pages strike you in a favorable manner, I pray that your praise would land upon the proper Being, for it is solely by the working of His Spirit that you might be able to see the Truth. I have no considerable accomplishment to speak of. I am a twenty-one year old college student. I am not a scholar. I am not a philosopher. I am hardly a writer at all. I am merely a blind thief who has been graciously infected with a minute vision of a Kingdom unseen. Consider this work a poor plagiarism of Heaven’s manifesto. These pages are a result of my confrontation with death and sin in full amounts; beyond this, they are my humble scrapings of a Grace which I may never hope to comprehend in full. I lay them before you, my fellow travelers upon this road of humanity, so that together we might taste the drink of Truth out of which Life flows freely. Should you find points in this work which oppose your soul, dissect them with the sword of this Truth. After this, if the faults still remain, condemn them with attribution to my sinful name alone. Should you find points in this work worthy of glorification, then allow your tongue to sing its praise to the King; it is the power contained in His wrists alone which saves our beggars’ souls. Grace and Peace to you my dear friends.”—This is the Preface of a new project I just started called The 50 Manifesto. It will be 50 writings on 50 different Scriptures. Due to contractual obligations which I’ve begun the process of entering into, I will not be able to publish this book in a formal manner. It is my goal to personally release this work at the start of the new year. I share this Preface with you because I hope it to be the foundation of this site.
“Mas a todos los que le recibieron, a los que creen en su nombre, les dio potestad de ser hechos hijos de Dios.”—Did my reading in Spanish today. Found the root of my last name (Potesta) in John 1:12. I thought that was pretty cool. It’s used as the “right” or “authority” when the verse says “He gave them the right to become children of God.” Little bit stoked on that.
“I fear I’ve made this “path of righteousness” about myself. Somehow I’ve fallen into the lie that I can be better, that I should be better, that I must move forward so that I might advance the goodness of my being. My soul, do not be deceived! May Satan’s tongue not entangle thee! It is not I who may take up the path of righteousness, for only One ever has. It is He who guides me on this path, not so that I may stand upright, but for His name’s sake. Be low oh corrupted flesh, for it is in your lessening that He is exalted.”—Christian Tenbrook on Psalm 23:3
“Lets say Joe Schmoe from down the block decides one day he’s got beef with yas, but all he does is make a damn fool of himself yellin and cussin in the street. No struggle, no nothing. Don’t even go for the gun in his waist pocket. Now lets say I got beef with ya. So, I walk up to yas, I put a gun to ya head, and BOOM, I shoot ya. It aint easy for me to shoot ya, but I done it. Had to be done. Who’s the bigger man, Johnny? Joe Schmoe down the street who don’t do what he’s thinking, or the guy that pulls the trigger?”—The Bostonian Gangster Two-Tip from Life Down the Barrel by Christian Tenbrook
Not only do I like your blog (haha I found it) but I also am OBSESSED with you secretly. Ok here we go.. I got this idea from a Tumblr spam I got once lol.. I think you like me too and you were always too shy to admit it :3 go to crushmatches(dòt)com (wtf it wont let me link regular) and make an account there. Then look up the profile 'gottagetme19' (me obviously) I left body pictures.. if you can guess who I am hit me up and we'll hang soon. You need a C C but its free
“Men fight. Men fight for what they believe in. Regardless of the masses, the pain, or the effort; regardless of the height of the mountain, or the depth of the valley; I will go to war for the Kingdom in whatever form it may be revealed to me. Christianity is one of Peace, Grace, Joy, and Love, but we would be fools if we read the Bible and forgot about the language of battle it uses. Arm yourselves, men. Take up your cross and remember it every single day. We will fail, but in our weakness His strength will be revealed; may we never use this as an excuse. May we never return to the cowardly crawl we once knew. May we never cry out for Egypt; for, the Promise Land awaits. There are some things in life that must be fought for. The Kingdom is advancing. Men, let us fight for it.”—Nits
It’s about religion. For some reason we decided to go with the whole “No, no, Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship” idea because we got tired of the connotations “religion” held. We basically let the world’s dislike of “religion” take it from us.
Christianity is a religion. I think there is a personal relationship that is a key part of it, but I think there’s more. Action doesn’t get us into heaven, that’s not what I’m saying, but religion reconciles us to God. It’s a refining process. He gives us enough Grace and Power to be able to pursue this religion, but there are things that have to be done for us to grow, to change, and to be refined. That’s an unpopular message we stopped preaching a long time ago and replaced it with “God loves you, and you love Him, so you’re good.” If you truly love God, you’ll practice His religion. If you truly love God you’ll do anything you possibly can to get closer to Him. He told us how to get closer to Him. He gave us religion for that. Make no mistake, there is no ladder to God. You won’t ever do “enough” religion. That’s why Grace is so beautiful.
The term religion comes from the Latin religare which means to bind together again. That’s what I think religion actually is. The poem is about the fact that I had God under my knife for a long time. I thought I had Him pinned in a corner, and life was easier that way; yet, life was dead that way. Then He touch my hip and it all went haywire. I broke, but at the same time I was healed. I was able to see. I was able to see the knives I had stuck in His body, the transgressions I had laid on Him. In the Middle-English period, Summoners were used by the church to collect money for sins. They would go find people who had done something wrong and literally read them their transgressions. That happened to me when the Sun came up. When suddenly I could see. God used a few specific people in my life to do that (I think you’ll see that in the last line. A good friend of mine who keeps my eyes open has a blog by the same name. You should check it out). The story goes that one day God whispered “Religare, Religare” even though He stood before me with my knives in His sides. That’s a picture of Grace. I think people could look at this poem and say “But, Christian, you fall asleep at the end. That doesn’t look like good religion to me!” My answer: I didn’t know what rest felt like until I became a believer. Honestly, I don’t know how I went twenty years without the Peace that God offers. I was always moving, always fighting, always thinking, always talking myself to shreds. That’s the first thing I learned about the dude. There’s a calm in His eyes I never want to lose sight of. He breathes into the chaos and it falls still.
God invited me to join Him in a relationship, yes, but He also laid before me the path of religion, the path of reconciliation, the path of being bound together again.
ligare: (Latin) to bind. Root of the English word “ligament” religare: (Latin) to bind together again. Root of the English word “religion.”
I had you well held, sky-facing beneath my blade. your God shoulders dug deeper, and, deeper into the dirt beneath the tree, slow-escaping the edges of my advance. And you wept words of Creation absent of fear, absent of pain, but in an angel-language I didn’t understand. And in dawn’s haze which pyramids the night, your finger- tip, was on my waist. There was silence.
Then the swirling tide of discord, Then the echoe of music, as my skeleton twisted in sinful recognition, and broke.
Then the beast, I, recoiled with the marks of revelation, My dagger splitting its way into your side, and Water, and Wine, flowed down. Then there You stood, with the truth-Sun of your face welcoming morning, as though I had never been.
"Oh morning, you evil Summoner,” mine eyes did comprehend, as I, saw, new blades from shadows emerge, between your ribs.
Then You exhaled the God shaped wind, and I was breathing. And I stared down at my ligaments, peel-torn from my side, victim to immoral consequence, and I, wept.
And in your religion You did save me, though my crime was scar-marked on your very neck.
"Religare, religare," You whispered, and I slept, for, eye saw the Sun.
I have this strange thing about being in people’s homes for the first time. It’s no secret that I’m an awkward guy, but it gets infinitely more evident in foreign settings. I’m always afraid I’ll spill coffe, or ruin someones $6,000 rug, or accidentally light the house on fire after I knock over the flatscreen TV and start an electrical fire.
This is the context of my story.
A former professor of mine, David Turner, invited me to a group made up of twenty-somethings to discuss the topic of prayer (note: if you ever have the opportunity to take Professor Turner for a Philosophy class at Biola University, do it. He is one of the wisest men you will ever meet. I took Philosophy & Aesthetics with him, and it truly changed my life). The aim of this group is to pray into, over, and with a city (Fullerton, California) in faith that God is advancing His Kingdom there; at the same time, we hope to continue a dialogue between us which grapples with the nature of prayer. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you understand the obsession I have with words (besides the fact that I talk a LOT). The idea that I am given the opportunity by Grace to manifest the Kingdom of GOD in written and verbal form blows my freaking mind. BLOWS MY MIND!
The discussion was incredible. People shared stories and experiences as well as their concerns surrounding the topic of prayer. I sat quietly for most of the discussion, because the people I was sitting with are spiritual powerhouses. God has used these people to do insane things. When I say insane, I mean absolutely unbelievable. As shocking as it may sound to many of you, I didn’t feel like I had much to add to the conversation (there is no conversation on earth that I’ve ever felt like I didn’t have something to add to. I have something to say about everything. One of my greatest talents is talking about topics I don’t have the first clue about. I’m sorry for that). Quite frankly, I don’t think I know much at all about prayer, and in rare form I kept my mouth shut. My lack of experience was a big motivator for me to attend this group. Mostly, I was just curious what sort of Black Magic these people were into. Free coffee might have had something to do with it too.
Prayer is a mysterious beast that I’m very certain I will never fully understand, and I’m quite thankful for that. If it wasn’t so incredibly transcendent, I don’t think it would be so powerful.
So we were sitting there, and Turner started vaguely speaking about the power of prayer as he has seen it. Professor Turner is one of those guys who will never tell a story about himself unless you specifically ask him to. He always wants to hear how you’ve learned what you’ve learned and assist you by whatever wisdom he has gained by God’s Grace. It is an admirable quality. His wife filled in the gaps for us, and I’m quite glad she did. She turned to the group and said “David prays for his students, and he has seen God work within his classroom through those prayers.”
When I took my Philosophy & Aesthetics class with Professor Turner, I wasn’t a believer. To me, the Bible was a good piece of literature that held a lot of applicable truth, but I didn’t feel I needed to devote my life to its teachings. You can imagine the disgusting lifestyle that accompanied this kind of thinking, and what you imagine is most likely not far from the truth. The semester after I took Philosphy & Aesthetics, I took Theology II with another professor. I will not lie to you, Theology II wasn’t my favorite class at Biola. I went through the majority of the semester in an indifferent fashion. The week before the final, God ran to me. We were in the review session for the final exam, (the most lack luster place for a conversion, I know) and that’s when it happened. Somewhere in the middle of reviewing the Ordo Solutis, I remember thinking something along the lines of “It’s just you and me now God. I can’t do this without you. Let’s go.” It wasn’t emotional. The clouds didn’t open up. Quite honestly, I didn’t feel much different, but that day it began. There were years of situations, books, and conversations which led up to that moment, but I truly believe it is in that classroom that I first took up this journey.
It’s been a little under half a year since that review session, and things have changed drastically. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still the same, old, messed up Justin Potesta (*cough* sorry…Christian Tenbrook), but God has shown me things I have no business seeing. He’s doing things in my life that I’m completely incapable of doing. In His Grace He has re-formed many areas in my being that I had torn to shreds willingly. I’m still alive. Considering my personal history, that fact alone is a testament to the redemptive work of the Resurrection.
This is the cool part.
The meeting came to a close, and we prayed as a group. It was a very impacting evening that left me stoked on the Kingdom of Heaven. I truly believe that God has big plans for the city of Fullerton.
As we were cleaning up and saying our good-byes, David and I ran into each other in kitchen. As we stood at the sink washing out our coffee cups, we had a conversation that went something like this:
"Turner, did you really pray over your classroom?"
"Yeah. I would just show up a few minutes early and pray over the room, dedicating it to whatever work God wanted to do there."
I had come to a baffling realization.
"Turner, I met God in that classroom."
He chuckled, thinking I was making a poor joke (which I often do).
"No. Turner, that’s where I accepted Christ."
My Theology II class was in the same classroom as my Philosphy & Aesthetics class, and I had never given that a second thought except for the fact that I knew where Lower Rose Hall 2 was.
I’m a firm believer that coincidence is too inexplicable to be true.
I also believe that God heard the prayers of David Turner and prepared that place for people like me. Though Professor Turner is a wonderful human being, he has no right to speak to the Creator of the Universe. I, though I was…well I wasn’t even close to a wonderful human being, didn’t deserve to see anything about God. I still don’t; yet, He keeps telling me “Hey, I’ve been here awhile. Here’s a little bit of what I’ve been doing in your life. You had no idea.”
David was able to pray and I was able to hear because of the same reason: Grace. If you don’t know it by now, well let me tell you: we are filthy, filthy people. I know this all too well. I lived for 20 years as a slave to death. I have literally tried everything you can imagine to feel alive. I became a Christian because I was ready to be alive. I became a Christian because there’s no other power in the whole damn earth that could make me anything but worthless.
Above all, I became a Christian because the Kingdom of Heaven is the most beautiful thing I have ever hoped to experience, and the King of that place is worthy.
This is a story about how God showed me His fingernails. This is a story about how the Truth is a hundred times bigger than we think. Let us never forget this.
Prayer is powerful. If you need prayer, or you want to talk about prayer, or you hate me because I pray, let’s talk. Facebook me, call me, beep me, ask me a question in my inbox.
Remember this: I believe we are all human. I believe there are people reading this who are way smarter than me that think God is a lie, lie, lie. So, let us be human together. We would be fools if we forgot our common existence.
He thought a lot more about breathing when he swam.
A lot less about work.
As he touched the wall of the pool, he knew she was standing there. He had bought her those shoes.
"We need to talk," the woman said.
"The meeting isn’t for another two hours. Can it wait?"
"I don’t think it should."
"Okay, fire away," he said as he allowed himself to float backwards into the pool, his face parallel to the sky.
"Can you look at me?"
He smirked. He was very familiar with this game. He swam over to the edge of the pool, folded his arms on the concrete, and rested his chin on his wrists, blinking mockingly.
"You’re an ass, have I ever told you that?" she said partially smiling.
"Many, many times."
"Where have you been?"
"A lot of places. Costa Rica, Taiwan, England, South Africa. I went to Mexico when I was six, but I don’t know if that really counts. Boston, California definitely does though…"
"…swear to God. The place is called Boston, California."
"You know what I mean."
As she said this, she tilted her head slightly, allowing a lock of hair to fall onto her face. A year ago, Jake Powers might have commented on this lock, pulled his upper body out of the pool, and then planted a kiss on the space under her hair-line. He wouldn’t now.
"I’ve been here, Ro. Well, not literally here, but here.”
He was as awkward as anyone she’d ever meet, but she knew he was this way purposefully. It was his little trick he played on the world. Riley Farris was a strong woman, but this man had her in one syllable, “Ro.”
A single word. That’s all she needed to say. Half of an inflection, and two syllables, and Jake knew exactly what she was saying. That was how he was. He took four letters and made them four paragraphs. He was disgustingly perceptive. In his head, “Okay” was translated into “I’m saying okay, but I really wish I would have heard from you. I didn’t call you because I’m too proud to, but I kept waiting for you to call me. I know you think I hate you, but I still miss you sometimes. I’d never tell you that, though, because it would get your hopes up and I don’t want your hopes up.”
"Last I recall you said with no uncertain terms what I could go do with myself. Thus, I’ve been here."
He was the only person Riley had ever met in her lifetime that used the word “thus” on a regular basis.
"Yeah. I’m sorry about that. I was just…upset. It’s just easier that way. It’s easier for me to hate you."
"I understand. I deserved it," he said wiping the dripping pool water away form the tip of his nose.
This was the one-hundred and seventy-third thing that Jack Powers had said he deserved in similar conversations. He wasn’t sure how much more he actually did deserve.
Jake poked her ankle awkwardly, and turned and swam to the other side of the pool. There he dried his hands and picked up two cigarettes. He put them both in his mouth, lit them, and swam with them above the water back to Riley. As he swam, she looked towards the other end of the pool, watching him with the corner of her eye as she often did. She always wanted him to be looking at her, but she never wanted him to know she was looking back.
With the dry hand he had held above the water, Jake took one of the cigarettes and placed it in Riley’s mouth. They had smoked five-hundred and sixty-four cigarettes together, and Jake knew this number by heart.
"Are you ready for the meeting today?"
He genuinely cared about her day. The cleanliness of the inside of her head was more important to him than almost anything in his life, but he’d never say that. She just knew. She didn’t want to, but she did.
Jack translated this into “Stop asking stupid questions.”
"Can I ask you a stupid question?" he said.
"Better than anyone I’ve ever met."
With this, he slid back into the pool, allowing his whole body to be covered by the water. Everything but his hand holing the cigarette. In the silence under the water, he wondered why the hell she had come. She was too good at this game. She was too good at her game. One Jake knew she’d win. He just wished he knew what her winning looked like. He surfaced, pushing at his hair.
"Have I ever mentioned that I hate you?" he said.
She twisted her face into a mocking look.
They both dragged on their cigarettes and looked away so that they could look at each other without the other knowing. He loved the way she inhaled through her teeth; she loved the way he exhaled out his nose. It wasn’t enough.
"What the hell happened?" he asked.
"No, seriously. What the hell happened?"
He knew the answer. He had made mistakes. Not your typical “holy-shit-that-guys-an asshole” mistakes, just careless things. Men don’t have much respect at that age. Jake Powers learned that the hard way. He wasn’t sure how to forgive himself for those things. He wasn’t sure he deserved to ever stop thinking about them.
She let his wet hair shake the question away as he stared into the concrete surrounding his pool. She had helped him pick out that concrete when he was building his house.
"I should probably go."
Jake translated this into “I used you. You made me feel better about life, and you let me dream dreams I couldn’t without you. You’re fucking insane, and some days I love that, but I’m not sure I could love that forever. Make no mistake, I liked you the best. You hurt me like hell, but I forgave you. Now I’m scared out of my mind, so I keep blaming you. Even when I’m honest with you and I don’t blame you and I blame myself I’m still bullshitting you. I just don’t love you. I never really did, and I’d tell you that if it didn’t make me feel so shitty to say. I’d realize that if it wasn’t so awful. I could have loved you. I just didn’t know how. I still don’t know how. I want to, I just can’t. I don’t deserve to. You don’t deserve it. You keep running after me and I hate it, but I love it. I love that you’re still in love with me. I love that I can make you drop the world on its head for me. I love that you can’t stop.” The thoughts of Riley Farris were the only ones that Jake couldn’t see clearly. She was the only person he had ever loved, and in a strange form, that blinded him. She was a mystery that he had to make up sometimes. Sometimes he was wrong.
"Okay. It was nice seeing you."
Jake hoped she actually realized what he was saying. That she would see he wasn’t just saying it because it was the formal way to close a conversation, it was the truth. Seeing her had made his day. He would be fucked up for weeks.
"Yeah, you too. Thanks for the cigarette."
Translation: “Why the hell did I come here?”
She turned and walked away, taking her familiar exit through his house, pretending to be working something out on her phone.
Jake sunk into the pool. The water extinguished his cigarette, which he let float away.
He thought a lot more about breathing when he swam.