One of the hardest things I find in life is that when we feel like an outsider, we feel like that makes us unimportant. For a majority of my life I have thought like this, that because I wasn’t like the average dude, I was somehow less important. I think for many of us this becomes the way we view our lives. We see the lives others are living and ask ourselves why can’t we have that kind of story, why everything for everyone else seems to be so easy. We look at our lives and the choices we’ve made and wonder if we can ever make a difference, if our stories will ever leave a mark on the world around us. So many of us have made mistakes, don’t fit into the norms of the people around us, and we can feel like we are unimportant to creating an impact. I’m here to say that this is so not true, the enemy wants to twist your mind and make you believe that you aren’t important. You are important. Your life has value. The thing we must always remember is that God made you in his image, meaning that he is calling you to something greater. While you may be feeling like a misfit, this means that you are different and that you are pivotal to the greater picture.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the disciples. You know, the group of twelve that followed Jesus during his ministry. They were his closest group, the ones who after his death, would go out and begin the church and start the chain that would witness to the world. I’ve been thinking about them because they were all misfits. People that society deemed too far gone to make an impact. People that were looked down upon because they were not as religious as others of the time. People who Jesus called to follow him. I was thinking about this because it’s how we all feel. When we read these stories, we are the disciples, people who have made mistakes, that don’t often do what is expected of us for being a Christian, people who are called by God. One of the hardest aspects of being a Christ follower, is that not everyone is like us. While yes, I am meaning the world around us is different, but they are blind because we haven’t helped them see. The people I am talking about, is the people who have seen God yet let their relationship turn into a religion. It happens all the time, the church can become filled with people that want to improve their image rather than intentionality with their creator. That’s what I want to write about today, I want to write about being a misfit in the church.
I think many of us at one time or another have felt like an outsider. We find ourselves in seasons where we feel like we’re on our own, that we don’t have that community that we all so desperately need. We want to be the main character of our story, yet we feel like we fade into the background. That’s the feelings we get as a misfit, a person set apart from others. Lately, I’ve been feeling like a misfit. Recently graduated from university, on the hunt for ministry positions, and making it by working with an after-school program. I find myself in a transition period, and that can be hard. I feel God calling me to something more, and more and more I feel that Greensboro is not my end destination. It becomes a not very fun cycle to get into, to feel like you are called for more and that God has a plan, yet it doesn’t seem similar to those around you. In an age of social media, we see updates from those around us, giving us the idea that everyone has it all together and that you become the outsider because you don’t have your goals realized yet. As I have been feeling these feelings and thinking about what it means, God has reminded me of misfits from the bible. God used people who didn’t fit in to do a great work. I think he wants to use you too.
Have you ever watched kids at play? It’s one of the best things to see. You see kids create incredible stories and live in worlds that could not possibly be in existence, yet it is alive in the minds of children. I think back to when I was a kid; I would fight countless battles against robots in my back yard, save the world from villains as a superhero (with all the powers, duh), and I would win the hearts of all those I defended. Countless battles and I would never lose. Kids come together and join their vast worlds to play for hours on end, going from the wild west to the outer reaches of space. There is truly nothing like watching kids at play, and there is power in their play. I think God wants us to be like that, to think like a kid. A child’s mind is open and they have faith that in everything they pursue, they will achieve. They are not jaded by experiences, they simply want to move forward and change the world around them. I think we need to remember this, I think we need to start thinking like kids again.
None of us like feeling powerless. We want to be strong and stand against anything that comes our way, but so often we end up feeling helpless. I’m talking about both a physical attack, but a mental attack or another way to put it, a spiritual attack. We have an enemy who lurks in the shadows trying to tear us down and make us question whether God is truly there. Now before I continue, this isn’t a post about how “the devil made me do it,” stop that, you did it and you have to own the mistake (rant over). Today I want to write about how to combat spiritual attack, because each of us fight on a daily basis. There are words spoken over us (see last week’s post), there are temptations that arise, and there are hardships that don’t make sense to us. Each of these things are a form of spiritual attack, designed to make us lose sight of the one who loves us, the one who gave his life for us. You see, we aren’t hopeless in the midst of these things, we actually have the tool we need to fight back. It’s so easy for church culture to just say, “hang in there,” or my personal favorite, “I’ll pray for you,” (then never pray when you could do it in that moment with them). This tool is powerful and we all have experienced it, but we often don’t consciously see it as a weapon, then it hit me while reading a book.
“Don’t let any evil talk come out of your mouths. Say only what will help to build others up and meet their needs. Then what you say will help those who listen.”
I love words. It’s one of the reasons I love to write, so many words with deep meaning can come together and create a complete thought. That thought can then translate into an idea, and ideas become unstoppable. They create change and leave an impact, but we have to be careful with our words. Many times, we get excited by the power of positive change and movements from people because of words, also have the capability to tear down and destroy others. I have a deep love of words, but I also understand that they have a dark side to them. It all depends on how we utilize this powerful tool. We all have a responsibility with our words, one that we can use to build up and encourage, or tear down and crush others. Today I want to talk about the impact of speaking life can be towards another person, because we need this more than ever.
Well, it’s finally here. This past Thursday I officially graduated from UNCG! It was an awesome experience to say the least, and to be honest, never really sunk in until I was standing there waiting for my name to be called to walk across the stage for my department graduation. I was able to walk and feel like the last four years were worth it, that I had accomplished what I had set my mind towards. Today I’m doing a bit of a different post than I normally do. My typical format (for those of you who may be new readers, welcome!), is I will have a topic, a scripture, and break down to three-ish core principles that God has shown me through it. I like to break form here and there to share my heart from time to time. You see I don’t have all of the answers, I know I know, shouldn’t I be some kind of all-knowing guru? Yeah not really. Life at the moment went from being normal and sort of have a flow to it, to again being shaken up. I hope today that through some personal stories that interconnect, you will be able to look at the shifting in your own life and know you’re not alone. That’s the biggest reason I write at all anyways, I never want anyone to feel alone for any reason.
This week marks my last week as a full time college student. Pretty weird but exciting at the same time. For one thing it marks a new start, a chance for me to get out of the mundane and into my passions. On the other hand it brings unknowns and uncertainties about the future. It’s all exciting and nerve wracking, but I can’t wait to see where God takes me. I’ve learned so much over the past four years during my time at university, but there was a moment about two weeks ago that taught me immensely about two things, love and family. I’ve written about these two things several times before, but I am taking a non-traditional approach to what it means to have family and what it means to love people. I want to talk about them because I feel like in our culture today, especially in a Christian spiritual culture today, we tend to see our family as just the people we serve alongside in ministry or flesh and blood. We also use love as a bargaining chip, saying if you do “x,” then I will give you love. That’s not what we are called to do, and today I want to talk about a moment that was a turning point in the life of someone I experienced not long ago.
“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.”
1 Peter 1:13
Well it’s that nice warm spring time weather. Here in North Carolina it pretty much skips the cool/warm and goes straight into the heat of the summer. This heat is too much for my bones, but it always reminds me of a classic warm weather movie; Frozen. Not you may being saying, “that’s a winter movie, silly,” but that’s technically not true. The movie takes place in summer, and is that important to what I’m talking about today? Not really, no. The reason I thought of this movie then shifted towards me thinking about the classic song from the film. Come on, I know you just started singing it in your head. The song “let it go” stands out in the flick, we see our ice princess finally using her X-men abilities and decides to cast off the words that people spoke over her. Now where Elsa is a tad misguided with her abilities and eventually learns the power of family love, it made me think of the idea, taking the emotions and words that we feel and hear, and simply letting them go.
Hello there dear reader! I hope your day is going well, it’s a tad rainy here (which is fantastic), but I hope you are enjoying your day during this spring season. This past week I had a lot on my mind. I have papers to write with the end of the semester coming quick, and I was preparing a message I had an opportunity to give Sunday night with our youth. Throughout the week I will typically have God speak to me and give me a topic to write on Monday morning, but this week, I felt like I heard nothing. I was a bit frustrated, because in the two-ish years I’ve been doing this, I never really struggled with having a topic. I chose not to give up. I got up this morning and began my drive to the coffee shop I write in, and it hit me. It was so obvious about what I could share. You’ve most likely guessed because of your detective skills being able to see the title of this post, but I decided to write about hearing the voice of God. There are many misconceptions about what it looks like to have God speak to us and how we can listen to what he is trying to tell us. It was so apparent that I needed to write about this because I read a verse the other day that I pretty much just looked right over, but there is so much truth to it. It’s a verse that tells us how we can listen to the voice of God and shift our behavior when we don’t feel like God is there at all. James 1:19 says,
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”