The Wolf Man. One of the classic Universal Pictures monsters, a man with a curse, every full moon, he transforms into a werewolf. Howling at the moon and out for blood, a battle he fights to regain control of his poor mind. This is a trope in horror fiction, the Jekyll and Hyde concept, normal person fighting a raging monster inside. This month I’ve been looking at old tropes from horror and looking at how God has used them to teach me, and in turn, teach you. This week, I wanted to talk about something very personal to me, something that I’ve alluded to in the past and on this blog, but never fully talked about. Today I want to talk about it. I want to talk about the creature that tries to control me. One that has tried to hold me back. It’s not a wolf bite; I want to talk about my battle with anxiety.
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 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.
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.”
This past week, a tornado struck my home city of Greensboro, North Carolina. It came fast and hard, leaving a path of destruction in its wake. The night it happened no one really knew how bad. It hit the east side of the city, a place where attention hasn’t always been given. That night people were in chaos, I talked to a man who was not too far from where they struck and he told me that he was one of the first on the scene that night. He said it was like a warzone, absolute chaos and not much hope. The next day people began to mobilize, no one organization was the first to start, but a grassroots movement of the community began to take place. No company, government, or large entity; simply a community of people with one mindset: This is our city. On Tuesday, the staff at church began to simply walk in the streets affected by the storms. Door to door, doing what they could; grassroots. I was sick in bed Tuesday, but after seeing the full impact the storm left, my heart was heavy. Action Comics made history by being the first American comic to reach a thousand issues, Tuesday night it came out. What makes Superman so iconic is not the immense power, but the symbol of hope. Our city is filled with Supermen and Superwomen. On Wednesday morning, I went to the Peeler Rec Center, which is one of the main hubs in Greensboro to get involved. It opened a food kitchen and I chose to be there every day. We were a community, a true community. Neighbors coming together; a grassroots movement to help our city have hope. That’s the beauty of it all, I can’t explain why God lets things like this happen, but I do know that after the storm, there is a rainbow; a symbol of hope.
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.
“So encourage each other and build each other up.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Ahh yes, the November weather has finally come! At least sort of here in North Carolina. I love this month, I love October, but I really like the themes that surround November. Thanksgiving time is here, which means many blogs about things we are thankful for, but one of the things I want to do is talk about ways to treat those in our lives. Family is big to me, not just biological, but my friends; brothers and sisters in Christ. One of my favorite memories about November and thanksgiving is that each year, my family would open up our home to people who couldn’t make it home or may have not had family. It was always awesome to me, but I’ll save my thoughts on that for later (no spoilers). I think so often we talk about what we’re thankful for, but sometimes don’t always show it. Talk is great, but God gives us actions to live out faith. Today I want to talk about something that many of us don’t do nearly as much as we need to, because we all need it desperately. We need to be an encourager.
I’ve really loved doing this series the past few weeks. I felt like God wanted me to speak to the misfits like me, people who feel like they don’t fit in, but have been made with purpose unlike anything else. I started writing it when I was dealing with my own fears and thoughts about feeling like I didn’t fit in with people. During this time, I felt like God wanted me to start reading through the first couple of books in the new testament, primarily focusing on the misfits that surrounded Jesus. What I saw was how people who never fit in were used, and they ushered in the church and spreading the gospel. It is quite an amazing thing to see, and it culminated in this last post which I am writing now. I want to talk about being a misfit in community with other misfits. The thing that’s hard about feeling like you don’t fit in, is the fact that many of us stop there and begin to believe there’s no place for us. The truth is, we can come together as misfits and be in community together, because when we do this, we become the church.
Recently, I’ve been scared. There’s lots of scary stuff going on in my life. End of the semester stress, graduating this year, starting a job to fund raise for a future career of ministry, and simply wanting to do what God has called me for. I’ve been scared, but God is bigger than my fears. This past week had many cool moments occur. I learned that I had the chance to speak at our high school ministry, I had a great conversation with my campus pastor, and I had a chance to pray over people in our city. That’s the moment where it happened, where a simple thing hit me in my moment of feeling weak. Prayer. One of those basic things we have in our walk with Christ. So simple, yet often I overlook the importance of prayer. In my season of fear I have been praying a lot, asking for a sign (some kind of neon lights in the sky to point me) I have been wanting all the answers to my life immediately. God doesn’t work on my schedule. Aww man! But it would be so much nicer, I mean, I know what’s best for me! That’s my human side, and it’s many of your reactions too, well maybe you don’t whine, but you get the idea. In all of my fear, I am choosing to pray, because when I choose to humble myself, then the Lord works.
This past week I went bicycling on the Virginia Creeper trail. It was a blast of a day trip. I woke up at six, carpooled with Danielle at seven, and then spent the day riding up to the trail. We arrived at a cute little bike shop and road up the winding path with an old bus driver who told us all about his grandchildren and great grandchildren. The drive took about a half hour, then we began our trek down. The weather had fooled us, so we were a bit colder, causing us to layer up and for me to use Danielle’s extra socks as gloves (Hey, I mean whatever works, right?). We road our bikes in the cold and stopped a few times to warm up our frigid toes. We survived on Fig Newton’s (the only restaurant on the path was closed) and luckily only had my chain pop off once. It was a long journey, which took us around three-ish hours as opposed to the half our ride up, but the journey was worth it. I think the same is true in our own lives. God gives us desires and passions in our hearts to do amazing things, but the journey can often seem to be never ending, but there is a purpose in our journey. The long journey is worth the wait because God shapes who we are in moments of wandering.