Sunday, December 14, 2014

When He Is Silent

     I've never been much for speaking. I know its the main channel of communication with other people and such but even so, more often than not when I try to speak, really speak, I can't seem to quite conquer the task of illuminating my thoughts in full to those I wish to make them known.

     So I write.

     I write because it seems to be the only means by which I am capable of allowing others to see what I see. Even then, there are many times when my mind is so uncomfortably confused that not even writing could open that door without either leaving room for questions or unleashing a beast I have so affectionately named "Didn't Want to Go There". But now? Right now is a rare moment in personal history when God has decided to clear my mind, that I may write. So, not to let this moment escape without an attempt at making the most of it, I write. Yes, I have borrowed a computer which so conveniently holds at this moment a 90% full battery and yes, I have brewed a fresh cup of coffee at precisely 10:42pm. Just for you. So you may hear whatever it is God is about to lavish upon the internet through...myself.

     Believe me, I'm more scared than you are.

     There is a somewhat atrocious list of things concerning Christianity that I know are hard. I'm sure you could conjure up one yourself. Life experiences make people realize that during their walk with Christ, certain aspects are just plain difficult. Overcoming temptation, trying to muster the right words of encouragement to a brother or sister, trying to muster the right words of accountability to a brother or sister, learning how to come to Jesus after messing up...I could go on. There are, however, things concerning Christianity which I never particularly thought to be on this list. For example, letting God use me, I thought, was one of the few parts of Christianity which I assumed to be easy. I'm learning that is far from true.
     Funny the different tactics God and humans exercise as far as teaching goes. Mankind tends to adopt the "Tell 'em how it's done so they don't screw up" approach. This technique is exhibited through parenting, government, and education. The latter is usually solidified by the use of finals (I give mankind credit for many inventions of this day, finals are not one of those inventions.) I don't know about the rest of the world, but throughout my life God has seemed to enjoy the slightly more painful, much more effective "Here's what to do, but you're going to screw up, so when you're done trying on your own, I'm here" technique. As much as this way hurts, I'll take it over finals any given day.
     Back to assuming my significance, I guess I can blame the Bible. It's only a giant book of historical accounts about God using people that are hopelessly useless. Weak, broken, insignificant people through whom God expresses His power. Many times these people start off closely resembling myself and by the end looking more like nothing I've ever experienced. This, I suppose, is the reason I have always assumed that my usefulness to Christ is simply- there. What I fail to remember is the fact that while all of those people spoken of in the Bible were weak, insignificant, useless people, they all had to make a choice at one point or another, sometimes many points, to choose God. To choose faith. They were all faithful, some more than others and others much more than some. Even so, over and over, the Bible shows God to work through weak, broken, insignificant, faithful people. To dig even deeper, not only did God work through these people's faith, but He specifically chose the people of whom He knew would be faithful. So I propose the question, to you, to myself, when God decides to use me, will I have the faith to allow Him to?
       I try to fix so many things on my own. You can take a guess at how many of those things I've succeeded in fixing. In round numbers, the answer is zero. In fact, approximately every percent of the time I recall making things worse, and I don't mean to jump to conclusions, but I'll bet that I'm not alone, either. I'm weak, I'm broken, and most of the time I feel sufficiently insignificant, probably because I spend so much time trying, and trying, and trying again to be significant, instead of allowing Him to be the significance in me.
     Life is hard, and following Christ only makes it 100x harder. It's priceless in worth, I know, but sometimes it's just so hard to see! As I said before, I am weak. Struggling through life every day wondering what my purpose is and how I'm supposed to be used by Christ both today and for the long-haul, and not seeing any glimpse of assurance that I'll ever make any kind of impact on the world is exhausting. It's exhausting to sit quietly in faith, especially when my faith is so horribly weak, and the only thing that makes it strong in the slightest feels a thousand miles away. It's hard not knowing where to go and when while the only One who knows has decided to be quiet at the moment. It's tiresome, getting so close to tasting the true holiness of the King and then failing, again, in sin. Utter sin. Sin is a tiresome thing, and I am trapped. It's in my very nature. Why would I be surprised if Christ seems distant when I've deliberately tried to run the opposite direction? It's exhausting to be searching for Him, flat on the ground, balling every tear miserably, pleading for an answer, a word, a whisper. It doesn't even have to make any sense so long as I know that it was there. Silence. Following Christ is hard.
      I fear that one day, after waiting for so, so long, the opportunity will come. The opportunity to show faithfulness to my King. I fear failing. It's a strange thing, being saved by Grace and still living in the world. Clean, and corrupted.
     It's often asked of God to give us strength. God I ask only for You to be my strength. If strength is merely given to me I will surely misuse it, or forget to use it. Lord, be my everlasting strength in my time of need, in my time of waiting. Be my encouragement to those around me. Be my wisdom in my speech and in my conduct. Lord, be my discernment. Do big things in my life, God. Be my faith. Be my faith in the time of calling. When at last I am asked to show my faithfulness, show Yourself.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Will of God

     As the football season comes to an end, I will finally have a little spare time to write again. The key word in description of this semester would have to be none other than busy. Other candidates might be strange, incredible, teaching, and at times a bit painful. School escalated to a new-found level of horrible. God created a team. It feels as though for the first time in five years I have the privilege of practicing with thirty-something brothers that truly love each other. New relationships have grown, some older ones have slipped away, and those hurt, yes.

     God is good.

     The most prominent concern I've been struggling with for the entire semester, it seems, is this. God's will. What to do. I'm well on the latter-side of high school, which means college is closer than seems possible. What bothers me moreso than college, though, is what happens after. Life.
     I don't want to simply get through safely and find a good job. I want to further the Kingdom, whatever that looks like. I can't do that, of course. Not by myself. I need Him. I want to walk in His will, and I struggle daily with not knowing exactly what that means when it comes to decisions that I do have to make.
     I want to pour my life into the gospel, and (contrary to popular belief) that doesn't necessarily mean working at a church. Whatever I do, whoever I marry, whatever my life looks like, I want the gospel to be at the forefront of my priorities. It's so easy to forget that real life starts after all the things we stress about in this life. Taking "risks" is much more an active part of ones life when they already know the end result, not of the risk, but of the purpose behind the risk.
     I suppose the real issue, then, is not that I don't know God's will. Besides, His ultimate will is for me to love Him with everything and make disciples. Okay. Maybe the deeper problem has to do with me, trusting Him.
     There's a strange kind of brokenness which occurs while choosing Him over something else. Not so much when you choose Him over something that isn't good, but much more so when you choose Him over something or someone that is good. Something that you want more than anything.  Something you love. It hurts. Sometimes it hurts bad enough to put you flat on face in tears.

     He is better.

     There aren't many things in life that I've taught myself. Now, I don't mean teaching myself how to throw a football, or play guitar, or time-manage a life full of school. I haven't taught myself much, if anything, about who Christ is. Christ has taken that responsibility on Himself, and for good reason. Things I think are right are more often than not miserably...not right.
     This post is shorter. Mostly due to the fact that I don't exactly have much to offer when it comes to trusting God. I'm still learning, and it's hard. But to whoever does happen to read this, I guess I write this in encouragement. Trust Christ. He is good. He is better.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Beauty of the Art of Serventhood

     Many things in this world are capable of breaking a heart. Destroying ones inner being by causing a pure shock of reality to impact the deepest areas of the soul. A collapsing of all the pride that had been built up in ones mind through days and weeks and still years of assuming that because they are comfortable they are pure. There are things in life that shake these ideas, these pure figments of a tiresome imagination that only lead to a desolate and unsatisfying destination, most often one that was never meant to be reached. A kind of blessing, you could call them. None however, like I have ever seen have torn my heart in complete half like what I have recently experienced.
     Nicky is fourteen years old. He has teenage hormones and feelings. Doctors would say that his brain is about as developed as that of a six or seven year old child.  He's a little over four feet tall and weighs proportionally about the same as an elephant. Born with Down's Syndrome, he's never been the most popular kid in school. He's smart. In a few weeks he will be attending Tomball High School as a freshman. His heart is one of the most beautiful and sentimental things I have ever had the privilege of knowing. His behavior- is absolutely exhausting. 
     Camp Blessing Texas is a summer camp run for both children and adults with some form of physical or mental special need. CBTX counselors take a week of their life to care for and mentor these campers on a one-to-one basis. This year I was blessed to be able to attend camp for the first time as a counselor. My story was unlike most others.
     The original camper assigned to me was named Ricky. At 22 years old, he was non-verbal, very independent, a two-year attendee of camp, generally very easy to get along with. I was excited, with it being my first year at camp I figured Ricky would be the perfect "first camper". 
     Tuesday after most campers had arrived, I remained. Waiting. No Ricky. I assumed he was simply running late and while I stood around, busying myself with camp games and songs with the staff and meeting other campers, I am pulled aside by my cabin leader who goes on to tell me that Ricky is here, and he is very sick. I eventually met Ricky, who was very quickly pulled back in the car by his care taker. Next thing I know he was gone, and I was still without a camper.
     The rest of the day was difficult to say the least. Watching everyone else run around with their child, playing games, seeing all of the hugs and knowing what a blessing those around me we're both giving and receiving. I wanted that. 
     Later that night we are told that a camper named Nicky, who had just been to camp the previous week, has been invited back and would arrive the following morning. Immediately those who knew the name started smiling a thoughtful, somewhat scared smile. "That's a plot change..." was all that was said. The rest of the night I would hear a number of stories about Nicky's shenanigans of previous years. The same smile worn by those earlier began to show itself on my own face.
     Mid-morning the next day our cabin is swimming at the camp pool when we receive word that Nicky has arrived. Everyone in the pool slowly stops as those around ask who will be his counselor for the week. I raise my hand and a staff member suggests that all lay hands on me and pray. Everyone at the pool, including the campers, proceed to do so.
     The smile of old turns to more of a battle-ready game face.

     Five minutes later Nicky shows up at the pool. He waves hello to all, pulls his shirt off, strips down to nothing but Tighty-Whities that are frankly much too undersized, and cannonballs smack dab in the middle of everyone. A series of laughter followed by "And there's your camper." are all that is said.
     The very first thing he does is find me, and give me the sweetest hug I've ever experienced, kisses my cheek, and smiles. He was the absolute sweetest, easiest, most loving and adorable camper there. For almost a full ten minutes.
     Nicky's behavior was torture to all around him. Constant cursing, loud and obnoxious noises for no reason at all, running off, trying to kiss every girl he saw, only participating in camp activities in the opposite ways he is asked, a constant mess seems to follow him and he honestly doesn't care who cleans it up as long as it's not him. "Make me." Was his favorite line when asked to do something. Little things throughout the day done simply to show me he didn't care, such as peeing on the floor- next to the toilet, and so, so much more that I will restrain from listing because I do have a point to make.
     Nicky was by far the worst behaved child at camp all summer, not to mention a spot in the top five most exhausting. Days went by slow. Toward the end of day two I had already begun to show signs of a short temper. I loved him, and was disappointed with the way he treated everyone around him. With the way he treated me. I had to learn the art of serventhood. 
     Often I think it is easy to view ourselves as being in the position I was in when it comes to serving. That Christ, without the behavior issues, is Nicky. A camper. That no matter how we feel we are called to love and to serve Him faithfully. That He comes first. All of this is true, but what God showed me while spending time with Nicky is that it is quite nearly the opposite. I am the child. The rebellious one. The one who does anything and everything to show Christ everything but gratitude and love. When I am ridiculed I apologize and do it all some more. While Jesus, who has done nothing but love me my entire life. Still chooses to put me first. When Nicky pees on the floor, looks me in the eye and says MAKE ME, and I have to choose to step back and continue to place him before me. To look him right back in the eye and say "I love you." It's so, so hard. It's absolutely tiresome. A constant grind of slowly putting up with action after action. But! How much more has Christ done for me? How much more am I indebted to Him? 
     As soon as Nicky left, a strange feeling came over me. One like I had honestly never experienced before so great. I had been so overly exhausted all week that when Nicky was in someone else's hands I was finally able to think. I realized that I loved it. As horribly miserable as it was there was joy. The sheer joy of serventhood. To be able to come home knowing as I always have that my mission every day is to serve Christ and those around me but now! Now to know how wonderful that is. Serventhood to be no longer a necessary task but instead an utterly satisfying action. 
     Tears are all that remained. Speaking at the microphone to tell everyone there of my horribly incredible week, I cried. Hard. I broke. I can honestly say that no other thing in life has broken me more to the bone than this child did, and as difficult as he was he loved me too. "I love you buddy." was spoken by him consistently throughout each day. Oh, how I cried. I couldn't even try to manage to speak through the tears. Nicky is a beautiful child. Christ used Him to show me a beautiful thing. To absolutely tear my heart in half. I cried later at camp and when I came home I cried even harder than before and when I woke up the next morning I started all over. I loved it. When I meet Nicky with our God, when he can finally understand it all, he may try to thank me but I truly plan on stopping him cold right there and thanking him even more, because he was used to teach me something more beautiful than words can describe. Until that day, I look forward to being Nicky's counselor and friend for a long, long time. How Great, Oh How Great is our God!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Joy of Being Blessed

     I few weeks ago I wrote about being blessed. Specifically about keeping in mind that blessings shouldn't be taken for granted, or used. About how you have not been blessed to simply be blessed, but to be a blessing. Finally, that being blessed does not make you less desperate than anyone else. That Jesus is not only all you need but all you really have. Ringing a bell?
     While all of this is true, I would like to touch on another side of the matter. Joy. The Joy of Being Blessed. 
     Now, before saying to yourself "Ah, yes. I should never forget that being blessed does bring with it a sense of happiness...", I'm afraid I must stop you from further damaging the concept. I am not expressing my love for the things I have nor am I encouraging you to do so either. By all means be thankful for material profit, but seriously there is SO much more to the story. Hang tight. 
     Honestly, this topic is a bit beyond me. Perhaps the reason stands that it's it's late and I should be sleeping, but however the means I can hardly comprehend this. I'll try my best to reiterate. Ready?
     God has given me so much. Parents who love me unconditionally. Siblings who besides the occasional scurmish love and support me as well. Friends, no- brothers and sisters who literally strive everyday just to grow, encourage each other, and learn to depend soley on Christ. So much. I take it for granted often times. I suppose I just don't know how to appreciate things for what they really are, but nonetheless I've come to a conclusion. Just as God has blessed you to be a blessing, He has also blessed you for one reason. To grow you closer to Him. Think about it. Everything God gives you, takes from you, puts you through, convicts you of, it's all for one purpose. To grow your love for Him. To gain a richer relationship with Him. Everything that God puts in your life has a common initiative, and the ultimate ending involves you falling into His arms in a desperate love. Being blessed to be a blessing? It's for the same reason as well! God can and will use anything in your life for a greater good, blessing others included. 
     Side note. It's not easy. Most if the time I've found that it really, really sucks. It's hard. I don't like it, but the ultimate goal is so awesome compared to the hardship required in the mean time. Speaking from experience, the hardest ones tend to grow you the most.
     This week keep in prayer. Pray that God will continue to mold you into the son or daughter that He inteds you to be, no matter what it requires. Continue praying for me as well. Personally I'm going through a tough time of molding, and even though I know it's taken care of, it's simply not the most pleasant experience meanwhile. Think about what you are going through right now, or have gone through in the past. How did it grow you? Change you? 
     Thank you so much to those of you who have consistently kept up with this blog. It means a lot, really. It's a true blessing to have a place if literary refuge, and I'm glad I have people interested in growing along with me.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

To Win My Soul

4/19/14 - 10:35pm
     I feel so unqualified.

     I am beyond pathetic at following Christ. How many times I've strayed, neglected Him for something else - someone else. Something stupid. As a matter of fact, that's the very reason there was no post last week. I didn't get too busy, or forget, or just decide to put it off because I didn't feel like it. The real reason that nothing was written as of last week was because of my lack of qualification. Or at least the disturbance I'm left with when I feel unqualified. I don't usually prefer to use this word but to be blatantly honest on how I feel, I suck at this. Really suck. And trying to write about God's grace and impact on my life while neglecting grace and not allowing for any impact is so hypocritic I can't even stand myself. I mean just trying to encourage others, all while deliberately turning away from what I'm attempting to turn others towards through writing - it's sick. When I'm not right with Jesus, my words mean nothing. 

4/20/14 - 7:02am
     It's Easter morning. Just letting that sink in. The anniversary of - everything important. My everything. My hope. Just think. To be desperately hopeless. Miserably corrupted. Suddenly free. Everything wrong in life was perfected and made new in one morning. By the resurrection of Christ it was instantly different. Death our punishment, conquered. The previous inevitable, turned to hope. I can't even comprehend.
     How I continue to neglect His ever present grace I don't know but trust me when I say that in this moment I don't care. I don't care that I'm not enough or that I continue to fail over and over again or that nothing I do can ever suffice because in this moment, I am reminded of how free I am. Yes, there are times when I feel closer to God than others, and I should always strive to be serving God with everything in me, praising Him. But even in the moments of complete failure, desperation, stupidity, how much can I really do? How much can I do to overtake what Jesus has done on this morning? 


This post is a bit on the short side. It's not me being lazy, it's just Jesus leaving me speechless. This morning, today, this week - thank your Jesus. Remember what He has won. What He endured in order to win. Dwell in His presence and simply relish in how much He completely adores you. As the mighty lyrics proclaim:

Praise the One who climbed the hill,
And stormed the very gates of hell,
Went to war with death itself,
To win my soul.

Happy Easter.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Love and Abandon

     I'm not entirely sure how to begin writing on this topic. It's not awkward, necessarily. It's not something that I am unfamiliar with, either. I'm very familiar, actually. I just don't know how else to start than by stating the typical, stupid little line:

     There's this girl.

     You've heard it before from other hormonally challenged, emotionally driven teenagers. Yes, I think about her all the time and she is absolutely beautiful with her big eyes and adorable smile that makes her dimples shine and her nose scrunch up and everything and how she laughs and even talks. Trust me, I'm not writing this as a way of venting to the internet my girl problems, although if that's the route you thought this was taking I certainly don't blame you. It's common.
     Recently I've been struggling (and by recently I mean more like two years or so). As stated, I think she's absolutely beautiful. I'm drawn to her, obviously. She stands out, she's different, and I feel pretty pathetic writing this (que the struggle). 
     I feel so out of place feeling like this. Like, there are so many people in my life that I thoroughly love. All of which I rightly should, too. At this point in my life I know that my love should aspire toward Christ, family, friends, enemies, and everyone in between. I feel as though it's not time to love someone, a certain girl in particular, in this way. It's confusing, and I think that the majority of teenagers react to this kind of confusion via relationships, AKA: "The Dumbest Thing One Can Accomplish in High School". 
     Fine, that may have been a bit strong. There are high school "couples" that have it figured out, and that's great. I know some. I love them and look up to how they strive to serve Jesus together. However, truth be told, I know literally three couples like this. I take that back after realizing that two of these couples are now in college. One. I know one couple out of everybody. If I'm being judgmental Lord help me but no one else, at least from what I can see from my point if view is dating in high school with the right intentions. Even if their intentions aren't even morally bad, they are not focused on Christ. 
     Excuse my rant, because that entire thing doesn't have much to do with my point....
     My point, I suppose, is that (personally) the last thing I want to do is pursue her - now. I love her. Not out of feeling or emotion, because if everything was based off of those two horrible things then this entire post is not worth your time reading or mine writing. I love her with purpose and affection, and I will show this love to her by abandoning myself, and waiting until God's perfect timing has arrived. I want her to grow in Christ. To become a tremendous woman of God. Someone who is absolutely on fire for Jesus, and I can already see all of this in her. I want her to be moved by Christ, loved by Christ, empowered every day by Christ. This is also why I pray for her. Everyday I pray for her. Because between me and Him, He is so much better in every way. I pray for myself. That Christ will continue to move and mold me as well, so that I can be the husband that I am intended to be by God. I pray that if this woman is not set aside for me, that I will still continue to grow in Him! I still pray for her, for her own life and future husband. For my future wife, whoever she is, that she will grow in Him more and more each and everyday. To live for His glory is so much sweeter than chasing stupid desires. 
     This week, pray for me! I need it so much. I need Him. As much as I think I need more than that, I don't. Christ and Christ alone is where I need to be, where I want to be. I will continue to live in Him, everyday.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

To Be Blessed...

     My life is so busy. Granted, it's not nearly as chaotic as some people's lives, but still enough to keep me from consistently maintaining this blog. Although it seems fairly unimportant, I believe that this blog should be kept up with more frequently. Writing is a way for me to connect, seeing as how speaking has not proven to be my "forte". I understand writing. Better than I understand my hormonal teenage emotions. So between the two I prefer expressing my real thoughts through written words, so as not to become so distorted by confused feelings and what not.
     My recent life has happened extremely fast. This past January a few friends of mine decided to throw a surprise party for my sixteenth birthday. I was surprised, yes, but at the end of the day I was left with a main focus on how extremely blessed I am to have such a core group of like-minded, Christ-loving brothers and sisters at such a young age. Some time later after turning sixteen, I was given a job. Not long after I acquired my own car. Visiting a college campus sparked me into realizing that a degree is not too far down the road either. All these things, not to mention living in a good house with a strong family, a church family that truly loves and cares about growing ever more confident in Christ instead of simply "walking the walk", a consistent amount of food in the pantry, a secure amount of money, proper hospitals down the road in case of emergencies, and so much more. I along with a majority of people around me have been blessed beyond measure when it comes to earthly needs, and even not-so-necessaries, and still we continue to take every aspect for granted.
     Sad, yes, that this is the case but believe it or not the act of taking things for granted is only part of the problem. Looking at children living in Africa it is easy to see a huge marginal difference in how they live life as opposed to how Americans, or any other first-world country does. One of the first things that one notices is the fact that they have so little. As a society, we tend to see this and immediately believe that we are in a better situation. Would it be strange if I told you otherwise? 

     "For who makes you different than anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? - 1 Corinthians 4:7, NIV

If you are blessed with "stuff"(essentially), why do you believe that you are in a better position than those who have little? Because when it comes down to it, Christ died for you just as much as for those who do not have much. Why? Because both people in different situations were just as lost and broken and distracted and ignorant as the next guy. We are all on an equal level of failure, and we are all on an equal level of grace. For what will become of those possessions anyway? Gone. Worthless. Yet, we still try to convince ourselves (and do a pretty darn good job at it most of the time) that we have more.
     I suppose what I'm trying to get at is that I have Jesus and Jesus alone. I don't have "Jesus and this other stuff". He is my everything, whether I want Him to be or not. Because there will be a day when everything I "own" will perish, and it will become all too clear that He was all I had all along.
     Problem being, I still have stuff. Is having a house, a car, a job, church, family, hospitals etc. a blessing. Yes! The question is how will we use them? The least if these have been given little physical needs for a complete purpose. Likewise, typical first-world Americans have been given much - for a purpose. How will we use our blessing? Will we leave it at "oh we're just blessed..." and move on with our iPhones and starbucks and youth group like nothing changes? How could we be so ignorant? How could I be so ignorant? 
     Point being, you have not been blessed, to be blessed. You have been blessed in order that you may be a blessing. This week, challenge yourself to step out of your normal routine and be a blessing to someone else. Make Jesus known. Also, to pray for those in hard situations. Because yes, physical necessities are not everything, but they do make life harder. Pray for strength, confidence, and hope. Pray that they, along with yourself, will continually keep your eyes focused on Jesus.

     "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning it's shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." 
- Hebrews 12:2, NIV