Overcome

“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”

Revelation 12:11

Sometimes we get in a funk. Things might not be terrible or falling apart, but there are still moments where we feel like we are in a haze. I talked last week about the nature of God and how he is our savior and deliverer in our moments of doubt, and today, I want to talk to you about the power we have because of Christ’s love for us. God is Yeshua, our savior and deliverer, and what that means is that because of the ultimate sacrifice, we are free. Easter is here, and while it is well known to be a big day for local churches to have new guests, the reason for Easter is the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is how Jesus holds the name of Yeshua, he came to earth, as God and human, in order to fulfill the old testament’s prophecies and then be crucified, taking on all of our sins. Then three days later, defeated death and rose again allowing each of us to enter into a relationship with him. That is a very condensed version of the gospel for you, and it is a beautiful tapestry of how nothing, not even death, can hinder God from overcoming all things.

Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we can overcome.

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Refresh Your Heart

This past weekend, my wife and I decided to go on a road trip. In December, we went to Walt Disney World for our honeymoon, and we had the idea to go back. You see, they had a Festival of the Arts event at Epcot, and we were bummed we might miss it. My wife then said, why don’t we go? So, we decided to pick a weekend and drive down to Florida. It’s always awesome to go on a road trip, you have lots of time laughing and goofing off in the car. Singing songs at the top of your lungs (whether you know the words or not), having those moments of needing to pee and not seeing a rest stop anywhere, and munching on whatever food you brought (shout out to peanut butter sandwiches). Time feels slow and fast all at the same time, and it’s a great experience. There are often moments where you have to fill up on gas, sometimes you are stretched to see how long you can go without stopping or praying a gas station will be there soon, either way, you gotta fill up. If you don’t, you could end up getting stuck.

What’s funny is we understand this idea on a road trip, but when it comes to our heart, we run it into the ground.

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Broken Masterpiece

One of my favorite classes I took in college was an art appreciation course. When completing your degree, you have to take a certain number of fine arts courses at UNCG, so I took this class and ended up loving it. There was a bit of history, but the main focus of the class was seeing what makes art, art. That’s a super overarching topic, and one that I won’t focus on today. What I want to talk about is a piece that I discovered while researching a project. Modern artist, Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen took mirror shards and covered a series of mannequins with the pieces. Then, she shone light on the mannequins, creating a light affect similar to a disco ball. I just remember thinking how cool that was, and recently, remembered this again and feeling the Holy Spirit nudge me. My life has been wild the past few months, with incredible moments but with it the fear of the unknown creeping in. In conversations with friends of mine, this feeling is not something I share alone. I think even you may be walking through some very real unknowns, feeling like you aren’t sure what’s next. These fears are tools from the enemy that then cause us to doubt ourselves. We begin to feel like failures, worry about past mistakes, and compare ourselves to those who seem perfect around us. We end up feeling broken. Shattered people who feel like they can’t be anything in a sea of people. The Holy Spirit nudges me sometimes in my moments where I feel week, reminding me of promises and truth in scripture. The thing he reminded me of right now, was of those sculptures, a broken masterpiece.

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Dreamer

“The message I give you waits for the time I have appointed. It speaks about what is going to happen. And all of it will come true. It might take a while. But wait for it. You can be sure it will come. It will happen when I want it to.”

Habakkuk 2:3 

I dream a lot. My mind often wanders about things I want to achieve in life, things that I feel a burning in my soul to accomplish. As a kid, I loved going outside to play. I would create vast worlds in my mind a live out a series of stories and adventures. Sometimes it was being a superhero or Jedi having to face great odds, a villain bent on destroying all of existence. Other times I would be a knight or samurai, a part of an army keeping the land safe. I dreamed awake, creating ideas and solving issue of the world. As I grew up, I continued to dream, talking about the future and the things that I was going to accomplish and save the world from. One of the best compliments I’ve ever received, was from a girl named Ellen in high school. She told me she wanted to join my group project in science because I was always dreaming and creating things. As I’ve grown in my walk with Christ, my dreams have shifted. I used to want to be a screenwriter making movies with beautiful stories, I wanted to create stories that spoke to the core of others and impacted them, but the Holy Spirit had more in store. The Holy Spirit shifted my mind, it was hard and my flesh didn’t know how to handle it, but my eyes were opened. God made me this way, not to be a screen writer, but a pastor. A mentor, someone who empowers others; a dreamer for a kingdom minded world. God made me a dreamer, and the truth is, he wants us all to dream bigger.

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Empowering Someone Else’s Dream

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.

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Birthday Musings

Wow, it’s been one incredible year! Today I turn 23, my Michael Jordan year, hopefully no Looney Tunes need my help to play basketball. It’s not gonna end well for them (Shouts out to “Space Jam”). This isn’t like one of my normal posts, I simply wanted to reflect on some of the amazing things from this year. God has done incredible works in my life and the lives to the people who are close to me. This past year I basically graduated from UNCG (wrote a post about the one class I have to complete), which was an awesome picture of how God helped me through my studies. That was always a stumbling block for me, and can you believe it, I even want to get a master in divinity over the next couple of years!

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Claim Your Identity

I’ve been thinking a lot about identity recently. Who we are. What makes us the individuals that we are. I just took a long series about being a misfit and what that means, but during the time of writing that series, I’ve been struggling with my identity. Where do I belong and what is my place? These have been questions running through my head. It’s difficult to understand that you are different, yet wonder who you truly are. At the same time, I know who I am, we all do. God tells us that he has made us in his image, so our identity is that we are children of the king, why then is it so hard to accept our identity? I have breakfast with my dad each week, and one morning I was telling him that I felt this way. That I was struggling with who I truly am, and because of that, my mind was trying to convince me that I shouldn’t expect anything big from God. I think many of us feel that way. We don’t “feel” special, even when people say we are, we start to feel like we are worthless rather than worthy. The thing is, feelings can be wrong, God isn’t. My dad told me that I should look in scripture and write out verses that claim who I am in Christ. I honestly blew it off, but then decided to sit down and write. Ephesians 2:10, 1 Peter 2:9, 1 Timothy 1:7, and Galatians 3:26 were all verses I found and wrote down in my bullet journal because they tell me who I am (Look em up, and write em down). After all of these my cynical brain kicked in, and started giving me doubt, then I read 1 Corinthians 3:16 which is so perfect in the way it spoke to my doubt. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you?”

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University, Analyzing, and Hustle: Now What?

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.

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The New Year

Well, another year has passed, and what a year it has been. This past year started out fairly rocky, with my own dealings with doubt and anger, but ended with healing and hope. I love being able to reflect over the past year (see previous post) as well as being able to prepare for the year that is here. I started this blog a little over two years ago because I felt like I had a story to share, a message to speak life into others who needed it like I did. I honestly had no idea the challenges I would be faced with over the course of those two years. I walked the road of death, with two of my small group brothers in high school take their lives and walked through the death of both of my grandmothers. That was tough. I never thought something like that could happen, but in that, God moved. God always moves. In death I saw life happen in the way families came together and those who were affected made a choice to live the life God gave them. My brother-in-law suffered from addiction and went into Teen Challenge for a full year. In that year God moved. God moved in his life and saved him, giving him the strength to beat addiction and become renewed in the spirit. In my own life I faced doubts about myself, my ability to write and fears of the future writing and serving the next generation. I was able to see my writing improve and see the effects of people who commented on posts as well as people who came up to me and told me that I spoke to them. That’s all I ever want to do, make a positive difference in someone’s life. I also dealt with learning to forgive others who hurt me in the past and to overcome the second son mentality. I learned that without complete trust in God, I can do nothing, but with him, I can face all trials that come my way. All of these experiences and new lessons are projecting me towards this New Year, a new year filled with determination and a hope for the future.

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