I want to talk about something that makes the punk/rebel kid in me not want to talk about. The idea of submission is something that is important for all of us, something that truly allows us to lead others in the full potential we have. Before I go further, when I use the term submit or submission, I am not going to be talking about letting someone else take advantage or manipulate you. If you are being manipulated or someone is abusing power over you, that it not biblical or right in any way (I will provide resources at the end if you are in any danger. You are worth loving). When I talk about this term, I am meaning the way we can understand that there are authorities in our life that have been placed in authority for a reason. This is something that I have been learning in my current season of life, being able to submit to the authority above me. The reason why this is so important, as leaders and followers of Christ, is because God has given us spiritual authority to follow and he is our ultimate authority. When we contradict or go against the authorities he has given, we end up hurting ourselves. In 1 Peter, there is a moment in chapter 2 that speaks to this idea of submission. I definitely recommend that you read it, but I want to focus on one key verse. I Peter 2:17 says, “Show proper respect to everyone. Love the family of believers. Have respect for God. Honor the emperor.”
After the past month, God has really been moving. Much has happened. It was a season of prayer and fasting at my church, wedding planning is continually underway, my jobs were busy and productive; a lot happened. In seasons of busyness, it can be easy for me to lose track of what’s important. I tend to focus on getting the details accomplished only to miss the things God has for me in the midst of the tasks. With the season of fasting, I cut out any non-worship music, and that helped me in more ways than make sense. I always listen to music. It helps me focus and I love new creative endeavors that artists take, but sometimes, it can become a distraction. Many times, I don’t enjoy the quiet moments, but over the fast, I realized that we have to quiet the noise around us, in order to let God, have a chance to speak.
It’s pretty difficult to be authentic these days. Notice how I’m saying that it’s hard for each of us, not just putting that on the people around us. We are in a time where everything looks wonderful on social media. The celebrities we follow, the friends in our lives, and the churches we go to; all are in danger of authenticity. An image of perfection and we try are hardest to measure up. This isn’t me dogging on celebrities who do cool things, or your friends who love taking hipster pics, or your church with a solid branding strategy; I’m simply pointing out the thing that we as Christ followers need to make sure we don’t lose. The point of the Christian walk is that we have been saved by a loving God, so that we can have an authentic relationship with him, an authentic faith. We can’t let our relationship with Jesus become a Sunday morning walk, it has to be an authentic daily journey with Christ.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Life is hard. That’s the simple and sad truth about it. We go through struggles on a daily basis, life is nonstop and ever-changing, and this can become an increasing struggle that we all face. The truth is, we all have a very real enemy and he does not want us to win. I like winning, winning is fun, losing hurts. Losing makes us question our identity and who we are to the very core of our beings. I’m not simply talking about losing at a sport or at a game of jenga, I’m talking about the moments when we feel we have lost in life. Our hope starts to fade because of that person who hurt you. Each month we can’t understand how to get out of simply scraping to get by. The overwhelming events that life starts to throw our way start to pull at us. Losing hurts. In my life, it can be easy to let drown in my losses, to let it simply control my attitude and outlook on every small detail. The truth is that there is hope, because we have a creator that doesn’t lose, and even if we lost the battle, we have a God that won the war.
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?”
Have you ever watched kids at play? It’s one of the best things to see. You see kids create incredible stories and live in worlds that could not possibly be in existence, yet it is alive in the minds of children. I think back to when I was a kid; I would fight countless battles against robots in my back yard, save the world from villains as a superhero (with all the powers, duh), and I would win the hearts of all those I defended. Countless battles and I would never lose. Kids come together and join their vast worlds to play for hours on end, going from the wild west to the outer reaches of space. There is truly nothing like watching kids at play, and there is power in their play. I think God wants us to be like that, to think like a kid. A child’s mind is open and they have faith that in everything they pursue, they will achieve. They are not jaded by experiences, they simply want to move forward and change the world around them. I think we need to remember this, I think we need to start thinking like kids again.
This week marks my last week as a full time college student. Pretty weird but exciting at the same time. For one thing it marks a new start, a chance for me to get out of the mundane and into my passions. On the other hand it brings unknowns and uncertainties about the future. It’s all exciting and nerve wracking, but I can’t wait to see where God takes me. I’ve learned so much over the past four years during my time at university, but there was a moment about two weeks ago that taught me immensely about two things, love and family. I’ve written about these two things several times before, but I am taking a non-traditional approach to what it means to have family and what it means to love people. I want to talk about them because I feel like in our culture today, especially in a Christian spiritual culture today, we tend to see our family as just the people we serve alongside in ministry or flesh and blood. We also use love as a bargaining chip, saying if you do “x,” then I will give you love. That’s not what we are called to do, and today I want to talk about a moment that was a turning point in the life of someone I experienced not long ago.
“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.”
1 Peter 1:13
Well it’s that nice warm spring time weather. Here in North Carolina it pretty much skips the cool/warm and goes straight into the heat of the summer. This heat is too much for my bones, but it always reminds me of a classic warm weather movie; Frozen. Not you may being saying, “that’s a winter movie, silly,” but that’s technically not true. The movie takes place in summer, and is that important to what I’m talking about today? Not really, no. The reason I thought of this movie then shifted towards me thinking about the classic song from the film. Come on, I know you just started singing it in your head. The song “let it go” stands out in the flick, we see our ice princess finally using her X-men abilities and decides to cast off the words that people spoke over her. Now where Elsa is a tad misguided with her abilities and eventually learns the power of family love, it made me think of the idea, taking the emotions and words that we feel and hear, and simply letting them go.
Hello there dear reader! I hope your day is going well, it’s a tad rainy here (which is fantastic), but I hope you are enjoying your day during this spring season. This past week I had a lot on my mind. I have papers to write with the end of the semester coming quick, and I was preparing a message I had an opportunity to give Sunday night with our youth. Throughout the week I will typically have God speak to me and give me a topic to write on Monday morning, but this week, I felt like I heard nothing. I was a bit frustrated, because in the two-ish years I’ve been doing this, I never really struggled with having a topic. I chose not to give up. I got up this morning and began my drive to the coffee shop I write in, and it hit me. It was so obvious about what I could share. You’ve most likely guessed because of your detective skills being able to see the title of this post, but I decided to write about hearing the voice of God. There are many misconceptions about what it looks like to have God speak to us and how we can listen to what he is trying to tell us. It was so apparent that I needed to write about this because I read a verse the other day that I pretty much just looked right over, but there is so much truth to it. It’s a verse that tells us how we can listen to the voice of God and shift our behavior when we don’t feel like God is there at all. James 1:19 says,
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
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.