As we continue our series of lessons from horror, I want to look at something important that we don’t take nearly as serious. Mental health is something that is becoming more and more of a conversation, and that’s a good thing. There has been a stigma surrounding it for so long, people being afraid to open up that there seems to be something off, people like me. For a long time, I have struggled with anxiety, and haven’t always felt able to talk. My family and wife are the ones who have helped me be open and able to talk. They are safe people. This is a term that many have heard when it comes to mental health, find safe people to be open with. It can be hard to find these safe people, but we need to realize that having community is so vital, no matter what you may be going through. The sad thing is, many of us choose poorly. We choose negative influences over the positives, because we have an enemy working against us. This is a topic I talk about with students and kids about, because negative influences can lead us into some dark spots. God has designed us for community, so find a safe one.
It’s that time of year again! Spooky season, which means it’s one of my favorite times on my blog. I love looking at old b-horror movies because God uses them to teach me things about life and fear. You see, people give this season too much power than it needs when it comes to Halloween, I like to take that power away and help you learn what scripture says about fear and spiritual warfare. One of my favorite tropes in old horror movies is the moment where our protagonist isn’t sure how they are going to handle this threat. Zombies, vampires, ghouls, goblins, and creatures of the night; the odds can be very stacked against our hero. Sometimes in life we can be in the same spot. Satan keeps attacking, keeps throwing fears your way. “you aren’t good enough.” “You’ll never make it.” “Just give up” You’ll never be remembered.” Real fears that creep in. The truth is, these can really weigh us down, and if we aren’t careful, the bloodsucking fiends will win, but we have a God who gives us a chance; and that chance is all we need.
October is here! I always love this season, as it kicks off so many good events. My birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas; it’s my favorite time. It’s a season of change, seriously, it’s the autumn season of change. I’ve been through a huge season of change. This past week I got married to my best friend in the world. It was such a beautiful moment, one that I will always remember as the beginning of a brand new chapter in our lives. I’ll write about that in a few weeks, but one thing that I want to focus on is the season of fall. When I got married to Danielle, I didn’t meet her the week before and say, “hey, we should get like married or whatever.” It was the result of a cultivation of our relationship, we chose each other and invested everything into it. Our marriage is a result of the sowing we made into our relationship. That sowing directly affects the harvest that will come, and as a conclusion of these one-word topics I have been writing on, I want to focus on the harvest.
Worship is powerful. It’s a tool that we have to enter the spiritual realm with praise. I know that kinda sounds like a science fiction/ superhero plot, but the reality, it’s the truth. One of the most powerful parts of our walk is worship, not because we gain something from it, but because we give praise to our creator. Many Christians like the idea of prosperity gospel, where when we enter a relationship with God, he gives us everything we desire. The problem is, this is a false belief. When we enter a relationship with Christ, the desires of things on this earth are meaningless and lead us to desire gifts over our savior. The true power of the gospel is that we have a God who died for us to set us free, so that we could come to him in relationship and spend an eternity with him. Blessings come from an outpouring of our pursuit of Christ alone. What does that have to do with worship? Well worship is often misunderstood. That’s why I like talking about worship, because I’m not a worship leader and can sing alright, worship leaders are great, but can get lost in their passions. I want to talk about what worship is and what it does, because in order to know how to worship, we have to understand God’s heart for it.
I want to talk about something that makes the punk/rebel kid in me not want to talk about. The idea of submission is something that is important for all of us, something that truly allows us to lead others in the full potential we have. Before I go further, when I use the term submit or submission, I am not going to be talking about letting someone else take advantage or manipulate you. If you are being manipulated or someone is abusing power over you, that it not biblical or right in any way (I will provide resources at the end if you are in any danger. You are worth loving). When I talk about this term, I am meaning the way we can understand that there are authorities in our life that have been placed in authority for a reason. This is something that I have been learning in my current season of life, being able to submit to the authority above me. The reason why this is so important, as leaders and followers of Christ, is because God has given us spiritual authority to follow and he is our ultimate authority. When we contradict or go against the authorities he has given, we end up hurting ourselves. In 1 Peter, there is a moment in chapter 2 that speaks to this idea of submission. I definitely recommend that you read it, but I want to focus on one key verse. I Peter 2:17 says, “Show proper respect to everyone. Love the family of believers. Have respect for God. Honor the emperor.”
After the past month, God has really been moving. Much has happened. It was a season of prayer and fasting at my church, wedding planning is continually underway, my jobs were busy and productive; a lot happened. In seasons of busyness, it can be easy for me to lose track of what’s important. I tend to focus on getting the details accomplished only to miss the things God has for me in the midst of the tasks. With the season of fasting, I cut out any non-worship music, and that helped me in more ways than make sense. I always listen to music. It helps me focus and I love new creative endeavors that artists take, but sometimes, it can become a distraction. Many times, I don’t enjoy the quiet moments, but over the fast, I realized that we have to quiet the noise around us, in order to let God, have a chance to speak.
I want to share something that has made a huge impact on my life today. This has been something that empowers me and gives me a strong community. Today I want to talk about small groups. Often times we can feel disconnected or alone, and this is a dangerous place to be. Satan loves to prey on the lonely people. I know this because for a long time, I felt lonely. In middle and high school, I didn’t fit in and hadn’t found my tribe. Spiritual attack was more difficult and temptation grew stronger. Then I entered into a small group, a group of brothers my age that loved me and held me accountable for what I was choosing to do. I entered into a circle. See for a long time, the church has just been about rows; listen to the pastor and try to remember what he said two weeks from the message that spoke to your heart. We’re human, we don’t always remember messages, but when we enter a circle, we enter a dialogue. We become an active participant to God’s greater plan for our lives.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
During this season of prayer and fasting, our church holds a morning prayer time throughout the week. One morning as we began worship, I saw a man take his seat. The thing I noticed about the man, was that he was shadow boxing as he got to his seat. It’s a small thing, something that can be easily disregarded, but that picture stuck with me. So, I prayed into that picture, asked God what he was trying to say to me. Then it clicked. Prayer is often looked at like a small part of our walk with Christ, that it’s an asking of God to get the things we want. This is so wrong, prayer is not small, prayer is not to be overlooked, prayer is communication with the creator of the universe.
This past summer was a whirlwind. Now, I know technically it’s not over yet (ugh), but when school starts back, I mentally move away from the summer mindset (bring on the leaves and pumpkins!). I’m a creative person. Obviously, I enjoy writing, I aim to write every single day. Only one post sees the light of day a week, but each day I write. I started because I felt like I had something to say, something to give the world around me. I didn’t have many opportunities to share, but on a blog, I could pour out my heart. Creatives need an outlet to express their craft. Some of you might be thinking, that’s good for you, but I’m not creative. See that’s where you’re wrong, we are all created by a creative God to be creative. The word “create” means to bring something into existence, that’s a broad spectrum that encompasses a lot of things. The way we encourage others, the way we problem solve our work and relationships, the way we pursue our callings; all of these are creativity in motion. Still not sure? Take a look at Ephesians 2:10, which says, “We are God’s creation. He created us to belong to Christ Jesus. Now we can do good works.”
What a wild season it has been so far. I’ve started doing these journey updates, a kind of informal blog about what has been happening in my life with a mixture of what God has been speaking during my changing seasons. My current season has been wild. I got engaged, and that has been just a powerful blessing. We are not only engaged, but we wanted a quick engagement, and we are getting married in September! We are so excited, and things are coming together. Sometimes it can be hard to enjoy this season fully because we are so busy. Not so much with wedding planning, but with life. Life has a way of going all wild and crazy, it becomes difficult to keep my head above it all. This season has been filled with a lot of stressors. Many things keep flying at me and it’s hard to block all of it. I feel like Batman running through a gauntlet of rogues, just trying to make it through to be the hero a city desperately needs. Stress has become a norm in my life, and I’m not a huge fan of that. Sure, one could say that it “builds character” or “just hold on,” but it doesn’t lessen the frustration. I’ve been struggling with it a lot, but this season has also taught me to have trust. A deep, meaningful trust in my savior.