Being Church

I love jumping into the pool. There are different kinds of people, those who gradually ease their way in, those who test the water before deciding to go in or not, and then there’s me, diving in like a hooligan. My thought process is, if it’s cold, might as well get used to it quick and have fun while doing it than nothing. I hate long buildups. Danielle and I recently went on a roller coaster, it spun you all around, was really tall, and very very fast. My dearest Danielle loves adrenaline, and I enjoy roller coasters, the thing is, the waiting kills me. The lines always crawl and, in my head, I build it up to be worse than I know it is. What if I die? No one has ever died before, but what if I’m the sucker who kicks the bucket this time? What if my glasses fly off? I know physics literally says that they will stay on my head because of the force, but what if I defy physics? I have the best time when I just jump into it, and not allow room to worry.

My favorite quote from the great theologian and philosopher, Lemony Snicket, is, “Do the scary thing first, and get scared later.”

I think we need to live like this in all things, especially as we step into our calling.

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Seeking His Presence

It’s now been a full week into the New Year. How have you done with your resolutions so far? Yeah me either. It’s funny how quick we can lose doing a resolution, so I’m trying to set goals for myself. While these seem similar, my goal is going to be things I aspire towards, where a resolution is a hard start and if you fail, it feels like you have made a huge mistake. I choose to set goals that I want to do daily in order to strive for more out of my life. Last week I talked about the characteristic I choose to take on for this coming year; how I want to be like an avenger. Goals are a bit different. Some goals I’ve set for myself this year are things I want to do that will help me be better at my daily walk. I want to write each day so that I can get better and grow as a writer. I want to read at least fifty pages a day, which is a lot, but I want to continue to read more and learn more through reading. I want to meet more people and learn their stories. I want to spend money wisely and avoid things in life that bring me down. The biggest goal I set for myself this year is this, I want to seek the presence of God each day and step into what he has set out for me.

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Unexpected Lessons

Life is filled with the unexpected. These are things that can be good or bad, but each day we are filled with the unexpected. It can be difficult to trust God in these moments, because these life moments can be hard. A death in the family, heartbreak, and watching people close to you fall away can plague our lives and cause us to enter into storms like none other. These unexpected events cause change in our lives, and change is scary. I had a chance to speak last night with our youth about how change can come at us all the time. These students are having to choose colleges and face the hardships of a high schooler in our modern era. This idea came at me in kind of a silly way, this week in an Instagram update, a feature called “stories” was added, a feature that is very similar to the app of Snapchat (*gasp* scandal!). While it is a silly thing, people seemed to be upset, and that made me think, if something this small can upset us, how do we react when the real issues affect us? Changes create unexpected moments in our lives, but God wants to use unexpected moments to make us stronger. John 16:33b says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” You see even though we will face hardships in the unexpected nature of life, we don’t have to fear, because Christ reigns supreme.

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Renewable Energy

We’re tired. Running around all the time, not standing still longer than a three minute video on your Facebook feed, and spending so much time pouring into others that we forget to fill ourselves. You see we all get tired. As leaders this can be dangerous, we have a duty, a responsibility towards those we lead to guide them. In your personal life, physical rest is vital to simply functioning as normal people. In our social lives it can make us not enjoy the moments in front of us. So, what do we do? The past two weeks I have been tired, but I found a source of renewable energy. Now before I continue, yes the title of this post may be a little deceiving. So if you came here thinking this was about the hot topic issue of finding renewable resources, hehe, I’m talking today about renewed energy that comes from Christ. The past two weeks I have been on a high school camp one week, and the next on an Elementary camp. After the camps I took a journey up to Virginia to see my brother-in-law graduate, and then participate on serve day with our church. It was a lot, I’m still catching up on sleep (ish). The past two weeks have been incredible and God has taught me so much in the midst of physical tiredness. In that mindset of needing energy each day, I had to come each morning and ask God to give me all that I need for that day to lead and serve others the way he wants me to. You see, God gives us all that we need when we abide in him, he is the source of our renewable energy.

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Pieces

There is something I have noticed in the bible. Over the past year I have been reading the works of Paul and focusing in on the wisdom that he had when it comes to a relationship with Christ. He is such a powerful writer, his letters went to each place where he addressed key aspects of their life that they needed to re-order. Each book is a letter, which caused me to stop and think, I love writing (I mean, why else would I do this each week!) and often I will analyze how another writer works because I want to grow my skills. My brain started thinking about Paul, and there is something that he does in each letter, each book that he authored in the bible, which have one common device. In each letter, he opens with a personal greeting to each of the churches, and ends with a final charge for that church. The content is different, but the opening and closing are always intentionally the same. He personally calls out to each church and ends with a prayer over them and gives them credit for the work that they are doing and continue to do. You see, I think Paul knew something very important, something that we as leaders in our communities need to understand and realize, the pieces make up the puzzle.

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Invincible

One of the biggest lies we are told is that with we can overcome anything if we put our mind to it. We struggle and the world around us tells us to just power through it, that you are the only one holding you back. Life has us face some of the hardest struggles and deepest hurts that it throws our way, and we feel helpless. We feel like we should be stronger, that we should be invincible, especially as a believer we feel like we shouldn’t be struggling. We all struggle, yet we feel like we are the only ones. I know for me I look at others around me and feel like they have unlocked the secret to being invincible. Then there’s the other side, when life is going great. We aren’t having any issues, life seems to finally be at peace, and we start to feel invincible. This is what I like to call the “invincibility curse.” I know, it sounds pretty cool, I came up with that on my own. Okay, back down to earth. I like to call it this because we all have faced one or both of the symptoms to this curse. We either face situations where we are frustrated by the fact that we aren’t invincible, or we let our guard down when we are in times of peace. The reality of this curse is the fact that we are striving for invincibility, rather than relying on God at all times in our life. We have made invincibility an idol, losing sight of what really matters.

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Move Forward

Let’s face it, it’s hard to chase after our dreams. The Disney method of believing seems to be impossible. We all have desires and callings for greater things, and God has designed us to have this passion burning within us. We start the race, but life hits us with everything its’ got. We face pain from broken relationships, heartache from the loss of people dear to us, and the sting from words spoken against us. For me, I’ve experienced a lot of it, just like you have. Many times I don’t want to keep running into the future. I’m afraid of the pain and the unknown that will come. Fear creeps in. Fear always creeps in. For me, I want to be a writer and empower leaders of the next generation, but that road is unclear. I serve any chance I can and intern with youth, but that fear likes to creep in and tell me my dreams are unattainable. The same is true for all of us, we have different dreams and different places we wish to end up, but we are held back from our pursuit of it. I’m a visual type person, so when I picture the idea of chasing after a dream, I think of people running in a race trying to attain the medal. I think God is a visual person too, because he inspired the unknown writer of Hebrews to think of the same metaphor in chapter 12. Verse 1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” I love this verse because it revealed something to me that I want to share today. It caused me to think about three things that hold us back from moving forward. I’m going to call these the three viruses that hold you back, I like the word virus because it makes me think of some of the worst things in this world that keep us from living well, and these are nasty traits that will hold you back.

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Speaking Truth in Love, Fighting the Curse of the Manipulator

I think leaders have a problem. It’s a problem that is very easy to slip into once anyone steps into leadership. It has many names, the most notable being the “toxic boss syndrome,” but it stems from the problem of being a manipulator. We are all at the risk of falling into this type of behavior because it’s one of the biggest ways the enemy tries to get us to fall. I’m continuing this series on leadership, the past few weeks I’ve been looking at what makes a good leader from the bible. This is designed to help you, because I think that everyone has the capacity and capability to be a leader, and being a leader is hard. We are attacked in every direction, people will start to tear you down to see you fail, and we have the danger of being a manipulator. I think we’ve all at one point in time had to work for a boss or volunteer under a boss, notice that I’m not saying leader. A boss is someone with power over another individual, their primary objective is to use what you have to make them look better. A leader is someone that sees the potential in those under them and provides them with opportunity to rise above, even if it means sending them out of your ministry. This seems backwards, but when we equip leaders that are looking up to us, we help change the world. Imagine what would happen if we never pushed people to do more, to stay complacent in their lives. What a sad world that would be! God calls us to be leaders who speak truth in love, not bosses that manipulate for their own gain.

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What I Learned at Orange Conference 2016: Monday is Coming

This past week I had the opportunity for the second time to go to the Orange Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference is a next generation conference, designed to equip and empower next gen leaders for their ministry. It gave tools and new ideas that could be incorporated into ministry, and I loved it. It was such a refreshing week to be able to feel empowered about my passion for reaching the next generation and equipping next gen leaders to be the best they can be. The theme of the conference was, “Monday is Coming,” which was all about how we need to be intentional about the way we partner with kids and students throughout the week. So often we can get caught up in what we do Sunday, making sure everything is just right and that we have the best experience, we forget that the students have an entire week without us. We should shift our thinking to the idea that Sunday is pre-Monday. The first speaker of the night was Jon Acuff, and awesome speaker and writer that I look up to, and he made the point that people visit on Sunday, but they live in Monday. The church as a whole often fails at this idea, we get so caught up with programs and systems we forget that these people are only here for a short time in the morning, but they have an entire week filled with life, and life gets hard. It’s easy to forget that people have lives outside of what we see on Sunday, we experience death, failure, and heartache; we experience Monday. Everyone faces these trials and pain, especially kids and students. I know that they experience it, because I experienced it. I am so thankful for my home church of Daystar, because the leaders there know how important the week is. The thing I love about it is that it’s a place where the leaders care what happens in the lives of the people, I can about the lives of the students in my small group. Sunday is a good thing, but the value of walking with someone through their Monday can change their life forever.

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Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires

I know what you’re probably thinking, isn’t that Smokey the Bear’s slogan? Why yes, it is in fact! It’s a slogan that pretty much everyone in America has heard before, any National Park has a picture of Smokey somewhere warning campers and hikers alike to be cautious with fire. Commercials tell us that just one match can devastate a forest if we aren’t careful with it. I think the same could be said about our responsibility as a leader. Now before you start to question what I’m even saying, I’m not saying that as a leader you need to watch out for setting a fire. What I am talking about is your responsibility to not start a spiritual fire. We live in a world filled with choices and we see people all around us make compromises of what they believe. We often see leaders in high positions misuse the influence they have, treating others as lesser people or speaking painful words over them in order to grow in status. We try to push others down in order to gain a higher viewpoint, but this will only end in devastation. God has given you all a position to lead, he designed you with a purpose. Your purpose is to bring others into the kingdom. If this is our purpose, why do we misuse our power? Instead of becoming the hero who rescues and saves others from falling, we become a villain drunk with power.

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