Culture has a hard time listening. Every day we have messages bombarding us from all over the place. We are glued to our phones, checking notifications and refreshing apps to see what everyone is doing. The TV is typically just on, endlessly playing Netflix. It just gets tough. With all the noise in our lives, we rarely have quiet moments. Even now, as I write this, I find myself looking at my phone. It’s so frustrating, it’s time to stop and learn to listen. I laugh at myself sometimes. Okay, a lot of times, because I tend to do silly things. I’ll get sucked into a TV show that isn’t even that good and then know waaay too much about it (Shouts out to Vampire Diaries and its’ nonsense). I also do things that are a bit more ridiculous. I’m in a season of some unknowns and having to trust God, and many times I find myself saying, “I just can’t hear God.” The truth is, and this truth is the same for you as well, I’m not allowing myself time to listen.
I saw a really cool shirt at Target. My wife and I love to walk around Target, it’s a pretty simple date night (You just have to make a pact not to buy anything before walking in), and now that we have a nephew, we like to check out the kids’ section. Kids today have awesome style options to choose from, but in the girl area there was a shirt that simply said, “Kindness is cool.” What an awesome shirt! It’s kinda crazy to see shirts like that when we live in a culture in America that isn’t very kind. We get angry, often at things that aren’t that big of a deal, and we turn on each other. Normal people who go completely crazy, kind of like the stories that will inevitably come out of this coming Black Friday, or from being a secret werewolf. Okay, yes, that last comment makes no sense, but if you’ve ever played the card game, “One Night Werewolf,” you know just how not kind people can become. The game is played in complicated rules, but it boils down to two werewolves have to convince everyone else they aren’t and get some poor innocent players killed. I love this game, because immediately everyone tries to prove they aren’t the bad guy and throw everyone else under the bus. I highly recommend it for your next game night. What I’m trying to say in all of this, is we have gone far away from being kind, because we are all trying to appear better, and that often means putting someone else down to do it. We gotta change that; it’s what Jesus called us to.
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.
This past month God has been continually teaching me to trust him. Starting a new job, trying to evaluate my purpose in the future, and making sure I’m just generally on the right track is becoming a beast in my life. During the 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting at my church God keeps telling me to look at him and trust in his great love. Over and over again, everything I read in my bible points back to the love God has. None of us are perfect and we make terrible mistakes, but God still chose to save us. God sent his son for you and me, paying the price so that we could have a chance. That’s a crazy kind of love, and that kind of love shows me that I can trust God. No matter how much I can’t see or how much I don’t know, God simply calls me his son, and he wants me to have childlike faith. We all need to press into a childlike faith.
For many of us, this current season has been one of change and filled with new things. The end of that holiday season brings back the reality of life. We have to jump back in the swing of things with work, school, relationships, and everything that comes with real life; these moments can seem like a growing beast that you have to get a handle on. For my life right now, big things are happening. Good things, nothing terrible, just big. I’m working part time at my church and stepping into more responsibility as well as being part time in an after school program. I love it. I feel like I’m hitting my stride, but with any exciting and new thing, the enemy can sneak in and try to lessen it. It happens so fast, and often in seasons that are busy, the enemy will try to sneak in. Maybe you’re in a busy season, or stepping into something new, in these moments you have to remember to keep moving. We have to keep fighting for what God has claimed over your life, we need to have faith in motion.
Welcome to the new year! It’s been a week, so hopefully you’ve had a chance to take a step back and think about somethings you want this year to look like. If you read my post last week, you saw that I have a lot of things coming up this year, and I believe you have some big things too. Work might get increasingly busy, relationships might be stressful, our physical health may be struggling, and some of us may experience unforeseen struggles. It’s exciting for the newness of life, but at the same time, these changes can be scary and we will have conflict that will happen in our lives. Sorry for the bummer, but it’s the reality of life. Many people have the idea that following Christ means that all our struggles go away and we’ll never have to face problems, but that isn’t the case. Jesus even tells us that, “in this world we will have trouble.” That’s always the most encouraging thing to hear when it feels like you’re walking through hell. We lose hope during moments in our lives, and this always gives us a choice. In these moments, we can let these struggles consume us, turning away from God or letting our temptations rule us, or we can have faith. Today I want to talk about faith and more importantly, how we can have faith in our creator in the middle of our struggles.
What a crazy year it has been. It seemed like everything was kicked up to eleven. I got two new jobs where I get to be around some of the most incredible students, both in church and in a school. The Holy Spirit gave me crazy visions that blow me away and can’t wait to step into. I had the chance to plan an event and see students step into an authentic faith. The prayer wall I have on the back of my door (notecards with prayers written on them for people in my life) have been answered and I had the chance to step into deeper relationship with many of these people. It has been one wild year.
In all of it, God has reigned supreme and renewed me each day; he has been all that I needed.
One of the most impactful things that has happened in my life, was when my middle school youth pastor, Marshall, brought me into his office and told me I was a unique kid that was going to do great things. After that he brought me with him to a low-income school on the south side of Greensboro. The school was filled with kids who came from broken homes, newly immigrated to America, and were in a rough side of town. We set up a mini carnival for them, playing games and handing out candy. The smiles from the kids gave me a hope for the future. I was an awkward middle schooler who loved comic books and had anger issues. I was given a chance to reach out to young kids who needed help, they needed the love of Christ. I was able to give that to them in the form of fun childish games. I felt like I wasn’t going to amount to anything, but Marshall empowered my dream to be a hero to others like I read in those comic books. Marshall spoke life into me.
“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.”
The most common commandment throughout the bible is do not be afraid. Said another way, do not fear and its variations are used over and over again throughout scripture. This month begins a season of spookiness, and one of my favorite things I do on this blog is look at themes from b-movies and monster flicks and highlight the biblical truth found in these concepts. I promise I’m not sacrilegious, but I think biblical truths can be highlighted through this season. The biggest theme through this Halloween season is fear, and fear is from Satan. Plan simple, boom, we’re done. Not really. Fear is from Satan, and we know this, but why then do we feel fear? We feel fear because we choose to not listen to the most common commandment in scripture, we choose to rely on our own power and forget to be firm in a God who loves us. When we choose independence, we choose the enemy. We are not created to be independent, we are called sons and daughters made in the image of God, so therefore, we are called to fear not. Today I want to talk about an experience I had going to a haunted woods and what God tells us about trusting him, because fear is from the enemy and nothing good comes from anything other than God.
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
One of my favorite things at my home church is when we get to have baptism Sunday. Baptism is a public declaration of the choice to follow Christ in your life. It’s an incredible picture of our walk with Christ, dying to self and laying down your life for a bigger purpose. I absolutely love the Sunday’s where this happens, because you get to hear the stories from the lives of people all around us in the church. This last week where we had baptism was one of the best days, because I was given the opportunity to baptize my little brother. Now he isn’t my brother by blood, but the brother of one of my best friends. I’ve known since he was in third grade, and in the past year have been able to hang out and mentor Jack. Then a few weeks ago he asked me if I would baptize him, he told me that he a had made a commitment to Christ, but it was time to make it known. That’s the cool thing about baptism, it shows that we aren’t turning back. Even when life gets hard, we have this moment in time where we make it public with our intentions, and we have fellow believers help us in the hard times.