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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Friends



First up I want to apologize to my friends. I am only just remembering who I am, and it's because of my friends that I can always find my way back home. You see, when we leave our friends and try something new we always leave a map to guide us back. Friends are a part of you, and if you know how to look for, you can see parts of yourself in each of your closest friends.

I started out with an apology, but now I want to say thank you. I don't have many really close friends, but the ones that have stuck around in my life keep showing me how to grow, how to learn, how to never stop pursuing God. Sometimes I get confused, sometimes a run in the wrong direction - and you know who is there when I want to come back home? My friends.

Recently I was in a not so great relationship. It got to the point where I started to doubt who I was. Luckily I have an amazing God who stepped back and showed me how he has always been working in me: through my friends. When I looked at my friends and how I acted when I was with them I could piece my personality and together. It sounds weird, not going to lie, but take a moment a look at your friends. Do they build you up? Do you have a desire to be with them, a desire that makes you miss them when they leave, almost like you're missing a part of yourself? When you catch up with an old friend, is there something special about it?

True friendship is rare - it takes work, lots of it. But in the end, if you surround yourself with friends that build you up, motivate you to grow, and teach you how to see things differently, it is worth every moment. Here's to my friends, the ones that have stuck it out, the ones who have been with me for the long haul, and the ones that are only just getting to know me.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Love: all we have left


United States of America. E Pluribus Unum. One nation.

Take a moment and stop everything. Don't open Facebook, resist the impulse to check your Twitter feed, and just - stop.

When is the last time you invited your neighbor over for dinner? When was the last time you asked your co-worker how their family is doing? When was the last time you showed that you care?

If the answer to all of those is something along the lines of "never", you're in the same boat as me. I know I don't have this figured out, but I know that it is what America needs more of. In today's culture our lawn has become a green moat and our house is a little island. But if you look back twenty or thirty years ago, you treated your neighbor like your next of kin. You hung out with them, spent time with them, helped them when their lawnmower or car broke down - whatever happened to this society? Where did it go?

Today everyone is on edge. You can't say anything that might be racist, you better be accepting of all LGBTQIA+ individuals, and you better not have an opinion (they are too judgmental). Does this seem odd to anyone? I think we have gotten to the point where we know hate is a problem, but we haven't turned to love. Love is not acceptance, it's not a feeling, it's not an action - it encompasses all of those.

America is supposed to be a united nation. If you look at the presidential campaigns and everything else going on right now you can see that is not true today. Hate has spread like wildfire through our country and it is tearing us apart. The only way left to reunite our nation is going to be loving one another. Love is knowing the people around you, enough to know their struggles, and still willing to stand next to them. Love is saying labels are stupid and listening to each other. Love is respecting that everyone is going to have their opinion and yours is not better than theirs.

And here's the greatest thing: love is free. So let's start something new and let's love one another. Let's so no to fear and let's invite each other into community.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

I am not... only 20

The other day I was offended because someone discredited me because I was... only 20. "Am I not more mature than that? Does she not understand the situations I have gone through, the things I have learned from?" The truth is she wasn't wrong. I am not only 20. I am a engineer, a problem solver, a friend to some, a brother to others, I am a light in the dark, I am a planner, I am only human; but I serve a God who is everything and to him I owe my everything.

Here's my challenge for everyone: instead of letting age determine anything, let's look to listen before we teach. Let's look to love before we look to hate. 1 Timothy 4:12 says "do not let anyone look down on you because of your youth; rather set an example for the believers in faith, love, hope, and purity." The next generation is here. And they are ready to be different, they are ready to be connected in ways no other generation has, they are ready to be the church of the bible, but we need to invite them along and listen to them. They will learn nothing if all you do is preach at them. We naturally rebel against everything we do not like. That is just a part of my generation. So if you breathe down our necks, do not be surprised when we ask for space and then try to fight back. But if you come along side of us, if we can tell that you care about us and that you see our potential, we will give you our motivation, or drive, and our minds. If you let us, we will be able to push into the culture and take it over. I'm not saying we can get rid of anything, or that we are superchristians, but rather I am saying to there is something powerful about my generation, something that scares me because of its power. If we let Satan take my generation, we lose. He is already telling lies and stealing hearts. But if we rise up and take a stand, all we have to do is shine. We have already won the battle, but we still have to go through it. I am not saying that reaching out and evangelizing will be easy, but I am saying it will be worth it.

I am not... only 20. I am so much more than that and it would be silly to say my age is my identity. People today are capable of processing and understanding so much information, so let's listen to what they have to say rather than trying to shut them down and teach.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

It's simple: there is nothing sweet about God but he is everything


These are the people my heart breaks for. But they are also the people I am scared to reach. You see, I don't have all the answers and I'm not perfect myself, and I'm scared these people are going to see that. I'm scared one of them is going to ask me a question and I won't know the answer so then they will reject my God. And I take that personally rather than remembering that my God can move mountains; yet here I am, scared he can't change someone's heart. It's not about me or my words, it's not about following a list of rules, it's not about getting out of hell when you die. The thing I am about to say has stumbled theologians and philosophers for centuries and leaves all knowledge at the curbside: God loves us and all he wants is to know us - to really know us. "But he gives us all those rules in the Bible, and all the Christians I see are stuck up and don't even follow the book they say the believe". Again, I'll say it: God loves you and all he desires is to know you personally. He wants a relationship with you and nothing less than your everything is going to be enough. He wants all your wrongdoings, all your imperfections, all the scars that you still wear (even the ones that fill you with shame every time you think of what you did), he wants all of you, the good and the bad. Romans 5:6-11 [ESV]:
6For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.7For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. 
Christ died for us even when we were slandering and actually beating him with a cat o'nine tails. He still had compassion in his heart, so much that on the cross he cried "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do" (Luke 23:24 [ESV]). I don't know about you, but if I was being beaten and slandered for doing the right thing, meaning being honest and not lying about who I am, I would lose heart very fast. I know that if it were me in Jesus position I would have given in to bitterness very fast.

It comes down to this: there are people out there that are searching for a relationship that fulfills them. They think drugs will do it, they think sex will do it, they think alcohol will do it, but none of those things ever can. They try dating thinking that this relationship will fill them up. And for a while, it does. But then it fades away and they are left just as empty as before. God designed us to search for him and he made a spot in our hearts and our minds that only he can fill. And I don't know about you, but I fell like I should tell others how to feel this fullness I feel. Tell others about this amazing love God has already shown, and let them find out what true relationship feels like. It's not about religion, it's about relationship.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

It's the little things

It's the little things that matter most.

My hands are sore, my throat feels the burn of mucus - but it's the little things that matter most.

I spent time with my bible study and with friends - but it's the little things that matter most.

"I try to help" is the voice I whisper to myself - because when it's the little things that matter most, live is simpler. And we like simple, because simple isn't messy.

The truth is I feel like crap. I haven't been to the gym in months, and the few times I did go, I only went once. My hands ache when I try to use my phone, but some days are better than others. I used to be able to go hours on that device, but now a simple Google search reminds me why the phone rarely leaves my pocket anymore. It could be arthritis, it could be tendinitis, it could text claw; but I don't care what the diagnosis is: it hurts.

This past weekend I got to spend time with friends. But that's all it was - watching seconds tick away into the endless abyss of the past. You never get a do-over, you never get to go backward. We live our lives with each other, but are we really living, or are we just occupying this dead world? To live is messy. To live is to get to know others, to ask those tough questions, to grow with someone else, to find out what the Church really looks like. It's not clean, it's very messy. You will get hurt, but you can't sulk. The Church I know looks out for each other. It doesn't look to offend, but it's not afraid of being honest. Rather it says "this is what I believe, now let's talk about what you believe".

You see, the Church is about getting to know others so well, they become a part of who you are. Earlier this past year I went through a rough break up. It was tough, and while I forgot who I was for a while, it was my friends that showed me who I was again. When you truly get to know others, and you take the time to be with them, they become part of who you are. It's a weird concept to explain, but I think it is one of the reasons we feel anxiety when we leave those we care about.

In case you didn't get it yet, it's not the little things that matter most. Take time, get to know others, get known by others and make sure you are authentic and honest; and make sure that you spend time with God every chance you get.