“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
– Habakkuk 3:17-18
When we think of worship, most of the time our minds immediately go to singing on a Sunday morning. I mean church services are often referred to as worship services, there is a worship team and a worship leader, but today, I’d like to move away from this common idea. I’ve talked about worship from that perspective here before, but I want to talk about worship that we all possess. You may not be a singer, but you are fully capable of worship. When I look at worship, I think it’s better to see worship as a lifestyle, not just a Sunday morning state of mind (or an occasional mid-week service that happen). We’ve turned the concept of worship to no be a lifestyle but a “thing” we have to do. This often happens in the routine of our relationship with God. Read the bible. Check. Pray. Check. Listen to Hillsong on the way to work. Check. Listen to a church podcast on the way home (mainly to help the blood boiling anger of rush hour traffic, Orlando I4 what’s up). Check.
The thing is, worship was never meant to be a part of our checklist, it was supposed to be a state of being.
You are awake today and that means you should be living a worship lifestyle.
I wanted to write about rejection. Last week I wrote about how we don’t have to have it all figured out, and this week is the part two that goes along with that idea. Not a direct sequel, but still related. Think of last week being Alien and this week being Aliens, both related but you don’t need to see both to understand. Okay, weird tangent; I wanted to write about rejection. You see, there have been a lot of no’s in my life. I use the word wanted, because I wasn’t in a good mental state thinking about it. I had just gotten another rejection from another job. My story has had many times of rejection. From high school being rejected by teachers who thought I was dumb. There was a day in my senior year where I received three letters from three different colleges telling me I didn’t get in. I remember being alone in my room and screaming at the top of my lungs, why? In college, I had an internship where I wasn’t able to do what I thought was best. At my church job, I wasn’t given a chance compared to others. I have been rejected, but the truth is, I cannot live in the belief that I am rejected.
I wanted to write about rejection, but then my wife reminded me of what I truly am.
We are now about two weeks into the month of May, and it’s mental! May is mental health awareness month, shining a light on mental health and allowing for those who haven’t opened up a chance to know that there is always hope. That’s why I love this month. For a long time, especially in the Christian community, mental health hasn’t been talked about. Not only has it not really been talked about, but many times it has been seen as a weakness, something that makes you less than those around you. It’s tragic because we have lived and treated others in this lie that Satan has convinced us of. We get in the mindset that we have to be perfect, that in order to follow Christ, we have to have no flaws. The truth is, if we believe this, we will live our lives believing that we are never enough, but the power of the gospel is that Jesus says all we need is to walk with him. Jesus doesn’t want perfect people, because he knows people aren’t perfect. All Jesus asks of us is to follow him, and he’ll help us sort out the rest.
The same is true with mental health.
Just like every other part of our lives, we need to trust in Jesus. Trust in our creator who designed us with a purpose and loved us so much he sent his son to die on a cross and take our sins, and then raise again to defeat death.
One of the biggest trends that is in the current forefront of culture is the idea of understanding yourself. We take tests, read books, listen to TED Talks all about looking at the “self” and revolving your life around what makes you tick. I know I’ve done many of these tests and listened to books. We have Strength Finders which gives you your top personality traits, for example mine are responsibility, strategic, developer, restorative, and individualization (So, like, please hire me). Then there’s the Myers Briggs test (INFJ, woot woot), there are tons of EQ (Emotional Intelligence) tests, and the current trend in the Enneagram (I’ve yet to take one). All of these tests to help us know, us. Why then do we struggle with finding our personal value? I think it’s a combo of self-doubt and words that have been spoken over us. One of the most annoying things I’ve had to deal with is the question of “what do you want to do?” My answer, and it’s always been my answer, is that I just want to be in full time ministry. Yet, over and over, people who have asked this of me, “forget,” or like to remind me just how hard ministry is. Like, yeah, I know how hard it is, my parents have been hurt in staffing positions twice now, and even myself have dealt with rejection. That’s the way I think about responding in my shower talks, you know, the conversations you wish you would have but it only comes out in the shower. What really happens is I get frustrated and then internalize the lack of care I think people should have.
I begin to forget my true worth.
Over and over we take tests to know how unique we are, but a simple conversation can have us doubt our worth and calling.
I love powerful storytelling. I’m a big fan of books and movies because of the stories they can tell. I love stories, but I also really love true stories. Not so much history, but stories of people who have overcome and made something incredible. I’ve recently been reading a lot more, and it’s so interesting to see people’s stories and how they choose to press on even when things get tough. That’s one of the best parts about the bible for me. In Christian culture, people seem to have this idea of being perfect or fitting a standard, but that’s simply not true. Last week I wrote about how God designed each of us, but sometimes it can feel like we aren’t living up to how we were designed. I feel this way a lot, you feel like you have been made for a purpose, but that I don’t add up to what I’ve been called to. I look at my brokenness and don’t see how I can be used. The fear of rejection or that I’m not good enough give me anxiety and I question how God can use me. In these moments, I have to be reminded of true stories in scripture. One of my favorite parts in the bible, is found in the book of Hebrews. Written by an unknown author (so I’ll use she/her pronouns), she writes a section known as the “by faith” section. In this part she describes people in the old testament that chose to live by faith and listen to God. They didn’t have the Holy Spirit or the sacrifice of Jesus, they simply did what they were asked. The crazy part is, each of these people she writes about are broken people. They all had their individual struggles and dealt with crazy situations, but in all of it, one thing remains true of them and remains true for you.
Despite our brokenness, God says that we are loved.
The day is finally here! It’s Christmas Eve, hopefully you have all your gifts ready to go, and if not, I wish you luck with the chaos that will be happening today. Christmas is always such a magical time, there is so much going on and it can be easy to grow distracted with all the cooking, family gatherings, and making sure you’ve got the perfect gift for that person who is always so hard to shop for. Christmas can also be a challenging season. With emphasis on family and being joyful for what you have, this can be very difficult for some to cope with loss, heartache and fear of the unknown. For me personally, this Christmas has been a time of fun and uncertainty mixed together as the new year has many unknowns. So, what do we do? What can we do is we find ourselves busy and uncertain all at the same time as having to put on a happy face? I think the key is actually simple, just difficult to fully accept and believe. I say this, because it is something that I have to accept and navigate as well. This isn’t me saying, “this will change your life in a few easy steps,” really, it’s the beginning of how to grow and mature in your life. We have been called to humble ourselves and love others; in other words, we are called to be the light.
October is my favorite. It’s a season for jackets, pumpkins, and spooky movies. Some people have negatively questioned my love of spooky things, but these spooky things have helped me cope with a lot of fear I had as a kid. We often give fear too much power, and Christians are especially guilty of this. In an attempt to turn away from sin, we decided to fear the “other,” choosing to stick to ourselves in our comfort zones; we have begun to fear the people that need to hear our message the most. We see people that are different, and we fear them, we fear that their influence will be “bad” for us, so we just avoid them all together. This is a mindset we have to fight because we are called to “fear not.” Joshua in the bible faced bigger things than many of us will, and God told him over and over to have no fear, to trust God and he would give him victory over his fear. This month is coming to an end, and I have been talking about how the enemy uses fear to try and bring us down. I like to fight back fear, because to fight means that we are active, and we must actively combat fear.
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.
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 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.”