Thursday, February 6, 2014

Overwhelmed for the First Time

It is days like today that I feel like my dreams will never be accomplished.  I know today is an example of being overwhelmed by the waves and that Jesus can quiet them because that is what He does. Still though...

 I get tired of being a work in progress sometimes if i am being honest.  The process of sanctification is nothing that I am particularly fond of.  I get tired of messing up and upsetting people.  I get tired of having a feeling of dread come over me when someone asks to speak to me because, somewhere in my mind, I am sure I must have wronged them and they are about to tell how and in what ways I have failed them.  I get tired of striving to meet teachers expectations while striving to meet my own expectations for this final semester of undergrad. 

I just feel like, what with 18 hours of school (6 classes), Wesley Internship, a girlfriend, applying for grad school( as well as finding a way to pay for it), and a d-group...oh and on top of that i have my personal health to worry about, paying bills, dealing with a psychotic landlord, finding a new place to live and potentially a new roommate, and more...where is the time for it all.  Im trying to do all of the above while trying to restore some friendships, move on from others, build new ones, find the strength to talk to the people who matter most.  Buh. 

I know it gets better.  I know its not me who gets me through each day.  I know it is not I who holds my future in my hands.  The Lord is in charge of my life and I am more in love with Him than ever.  Today is just the first day that I am overwhelmed in a semester that is seemingly meant to overwhelm me.  I am reminded that no man is an island right now.  It is imperative that I, (and anyone who is stressed really) keep myself open when i am overwhelmed.  I cannot close up when I feel like a boxer who has taken to many punches to the body.  My vulnerability is key to the Lord continuing to reveal himself to me.  He wants to show me, in the storm, that he is the master of it. I just have to yield to me master. 

Ultimately this is why I am sharing this.  I need help. I cannot do this semester alone.  I need each of you and the Lord above all else.  I ask that you pray for me and i hope that the Lord will open up opportunities for me to serve each of you throughout this semester.  Thanks for reading.
God Bless

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Me & Jesus

Welcome to 2014 y'all.  I want to kick off this year by saying that I am bad at doing things.  In fact, I suck at these "things".  By "things" i mean the things that matter.  Most people are good at doing menial things.  Sending an email, washing their clothes/dishes, or even brushing their teeth.  When these "things" begin to matter however, I become pretty reluctant to do whatever that "thing" is.

Example time.  Having a much needed conversation with a roommate, sibling, parent, significant other, whoever it might be, having that conversation is rather difficult and all I would like to do is not have said conversation.  Maybe it is a parents bad habit, or a friend's questionable relationship.  I sometimes justify not talking to this person because having the conversation will not serve much of a purpose other than to voice my displeasure (after all, it shouldn't be all about me right?) Other times i refuse the conversation simply because avoiding the confrontation is far more comfortable (unless I do not know the person all that well, then I have no problem with confrontation.) In the end, i don't have the conversation because silence is the best way to protect myself from whatever it is my mind has conjured up that I am trying to avoid. I consider it kind of pathetic and it is something that I want to change this upcoming year.

Another "thing" that I am bad at is taking care of myself spiritually.  I know that is not a thing that christians are supposed to admit but it is something I am bad at.  By taking care of myself, I mean stuff like daily repentance, daily reading the word, appealing to my Almighty Father for help and love and the like.  I am bad at it.

I was watching a podcast over at my friend Katie's house the other night and this pastor is preaching out of Titus two.  Essentially the passage is about what living as a christian should look like.  Convicted me for sure because I look at the scripture and see that on the large, the lifestyle it describes is not the one I lead.  I think further on the examples of the "christian life" around me that I see in pastors, parents, friends, and even in the stories in the bible.  That life is not there! Drives me crazy sometimes because I hear pastors say sometimes and read other times that, as a believer, if you love the Lord, your life will look like XYZ.  Bahhumbug to that because I must have missed the Holiness Ferry to the land of Christiandom.  I love the Lord and I know that I do. So clearly my love must not be big enough, not exuberant enough.  Or maybe I am not hermit like enough for my love to shine through.  Could it be I do not dress enough like a hipster for my Love of the Lord to be considered real and I do not like to sip local coffee use Instagram enough.  Maybe I am not made of the right stuff to have lasting, real, relationship with my Precious Jesus.

Now I know that there is a lot of self-help crap and books and prosperity gospel stuff that I could plug into this issue and fix it.  But here is what I think my problem is: All that stuff above is noise and it all overshadows what is true. What is true is that it is not my job to have it figured out.  In other words, I do not have to be Francis Chan right now or ever.  The Truth found in scripture is the same for each of us but the application and the general timeline of that application is different.  I also need to quit trying to be the best at prayer, scripture memory, fasting, disciple making, and tithing all in one day.  Pride is terrible thing and I think that it is the undercurrent that drives this within me.

To kick off the new year I want to start out by saying that I suck at doing "things".  I suck at loving the Lord with all of my heart every second of every day.  I suck at reading and loving to read the Word.  I suck at treating other Christians with love often more than non-believers.  I suck at the little things.  More often than not I am selfish and do what is comfortable.  I put up walls in front of those I love so that maybe they will not notice.  Simple said, I suck.

It is okay though because I do love Jesus, and He knows my heart.  He made me a promise when he died on that cross for me.  He promised to take all of my "suck" and make it beautiful.  Every bad habit He promised to purge away.  Every spiritual discipline that I am bad at doing, He promised to teach me.  He promised to take my hand and walk me through the rough patches of life so that he can raise me up to glorify him on the other side.  Who I am not is not who I will be six months from now because of the love of God and how it manifests in my life.

Every new year begins with a bit of suckiness.  But that is okay, because we have a God that is committed to taking our suckiness and making us better than we were.  SO this year, I will get better at these "things" not because I want to master these things, but because I want to grow closer to the Lord who loves me and will help me.  God Bless and Happy New Year

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Reverence

The Lord led me to read the beginning of 2nd Samuel the other day and I want to share with you lovely people what I found.  It has to do with reverence of the Lord. A reverent heart is something I lack sometimes but I think it is something every christian can work on.

Second Samuel 1 is where David receives word that Saul and Johnathan are dead.  There is a song thrown into that chapter plus a lying servant as well but that is generally chapter one summed up.  Up to this point in Davids story, he has long been next in line for the throne.  Saul, the former anointed one, has chased David all over trying to kill him.  David trusts that, when it is Gods time, He will be given the throne of Israel.  So Saul, the now former king and only obstacle to David ruling, is dead.  Sounds like a good time to ascend the throne.  David, though, waits another seven and a half years to take the throne.  Why?

I have heard David cited for his patience but his reverence for the Lord, His timing, and his own anointing is on another level.  David was a consummate servant of the Lord.  David followed the Lord all around the wilderness alluding capture for years.  He was afraid at times, as the psalms written during that time show, but he never stopped trusting or fearing the Lord and his plan.  Even in the moment that he had been waiting for since the Lord anointed him to be the future king seemingly come true, he still waited because the Lords timing and plan was better.  I believe it takes a reverent heart for the Lord to be this patient.  What is so amazing about David to me is that he rarely moved without the Lord telling him to go.  He feared the Lord and all that He is.  Our Father and Lord in heaven is far more holy and wonderful than we can comprehend.  His ways and thoughts are higher than ours.  His plan is complete and perfect. He is at all times completely just and righteous in His judgements.  His love is perfect, lacking nothing, and is the only love that knows the furthest reaches of eternity.  He is the perfect King and David understands this in his heart.  His patience in ascending to the throne of Israel extends from him recognizing how small he is in the presence of the Lord and, at the same time, recognizing that God, infinite in every way, has a plan that he is executing perfectly because that is the Lords nature.

I hope that all makes sense.  It is my prayer to not lose sight of the Lord and how incredible and beautiful he is.  I think I often commit silly sins I should not because my eyes come down from the brilliance of God and becomes enamored with something far less beautiful.  I want to live constantly aware of how small I am and how big God is and, because of that difference, live aware of how beautiful it is that the Lord has a plan for me that he is perfectly executing because of His great love for me. God bless.

5 Things I Like and Don't Like

1. I believe that their should be someone who is the facial hair police or something of the like.  Sounds goofy I know.  But only certain kinds of facial hair should allowed.  If you cant grow it, dont. (No shave November is different) There are too many neards in the world.

2.  I love cloudy and rainy days. If it was sunny only two days out of the week I wouldn't complain.

3. I do not fans of the following teams or the teams themselves: Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Heat, Lakers, Panthers, Saints, Patriots, 49ers, Auburn, Ga Tech, Florida, South Carolina, Clemson, Florida State, Ohio State.

4. I love the ocean. I see God in the ocean and can just begin to understand what eternity looks like by looking at the ocean.

5. The MLB season needs to either be shortened by 80 games or the game itself needs to be spiced up.  For instance, if no one has scored after seven innings, the mound needs to be moved closer, base runners forced to wear clown shoes, and second base removed. I would watch that.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day

Well, I said that I wanted to try and blog everyday of break but that has not happened. It has given me a week of thinking and reflection on the past semester, family, friends, and the coming year. I am going to use the first part to talk about something that is on my heart.  The second part will be borrowing from one of my favorite writers Zach Lowe over at Grantland where I will be doing something called 5 Things I Like and Don't Like.  He does ten things but he also writes that part once a week.  Here goes, hope you enjoy and share.

I have been reminded this break the importance of communication and, a step further, meaningful communication.  Lack of communication has often been the Achilles's Heel of my family and I would imagine it is for a number of families.  It is something we have been improving on in the years since we were healed but it still is a work in progress.  I often joke that I am the last to know anything in my family and with good reason.  The lanes for communication just are not there all the time though, I will admit, it is getting better. There are reasons for these break downs.  Some are relationship specific (e.g. brother-to-brother or parent-to-parent), while others are just mistakes made we make when attempting to communicate. I want to to unpack a few of these.

The first is brother-to-brother.  My brother and I are very different communicators.  I am the more outspoken one between the two of us.  I yell and stomp and get in people's faces. My brother on the other hand rarely verbally says how he feels but he wears it on his face and in his posture.  Non-verbal communication is not good for much though.  This is not to say that my brother and I do not have an unspoken language.  Best friends and siblings are just like that. Non-verbal communication though should not be the chief form of communication.  This is something I am working on changing in my relationship with my brother.  Few things are more important to me than my relationship with him and I firmly believe that he is one of my biggest allies I have on this earth. Non-verbal communication relies on assumptions based on your knowledge of the other person.  It is impersonal though and leads to numerous mistakes.  My prayer is that one day their will be healthy, two-way communication between us to go along with all the non-verbal stuff that we are so good at. 

Tone is important when communicating with someone.  Tonee communicates much to the person who is being spoken too.  The quickest way to eliminate quality communication is by adopting an accusatory tone.  I have noticed that this tone runs in my family.  Common responses to questions or questions themselves become strange accusations.  Once offense is taken, quality communication goes out the window.  Being in my family, I have come to realize being a good communicator means not taking offense easily which means loving a person even when they are being crazy or are just being plain mean.  Becoming offended accomplishes little so I try to limit how often I take offense.  While I believe the world would be better off by practicing my take-little-to-no-offense method of life, I must also admit that I am not perfect at these things.  I take offense and get mad with the best of them.

There is grace though and I am thankful for it because remembering to give grace is key to being a good communicator.   Grace is important because without it, we would all just walk around bitter at each other.  People are obnoxious sometimes but everyone is obnoxious sometimes so that really is not saying much.  It helps me to place myself in other peoples shoes because it provides another perspective for me to examine myself by.  Having grace can negate offense which allows for smooth communication.

I realize that i may have oversimplified some of these things but I believe there are simple solutions to problems if we are willing and humble enough to seek them out.  This topic could be expounded upon many times over but they will not here.  Feel free to share what works for you or things you have learned in your journey to communicate with people. On to the 5 Things I Like and Don't Like!

1. I like Basketball.  National Basketball League mind you, not collegiate.  I am enamored with the NBA.  I also love all of the analytics that is now a thriving part of it.  About a year ago I embarked on a journey to understand basketball on both a nuts and bolts level and a historical level.  What a year its been! Seriously, the NBA is the best of the major sports in America and its not close.

2. Speaking of collegiate basketball, I do not like it.  I cannot think of a bigger waste of time other than the WNBA. Until NCAA players are required to stay in college, get a degree, and develop their skills further and mature as players and adults, I will not be a fan of NCAA basketball.  The one-and-done rule is stupid and makes a mockery of the "student-athlete" title.  Offenses are often slow and have very little creativity built in, at least from my eye.  Offenses are little more than a few pick rolls while the ball swings from side to side while the players look for a lane to dribble drive and pass out. 

3. I love to serve people more than I probably let on a lot of time I think.  It is literally my favorite thing to do things for people.  I never want anything in return. I just like to help. 

4. I don't like people who take a lot of selfies.  Not bad some times. But lets be real, if someone were to scroll through someones Instagram and Twitter and more than 15-20% are of your face, you need something else to do with your time. 

5. Celtic music holds the key to my heart.  Something about it transports me somewhere else.  I really cannot explain it.

Thanks for reading guys. God Bless

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"...He loved them to the end"

Hello dear friends. I wanted to share with you a passage that has been rocking me lately and I hope it encourages you today. 

John 13:1 says, "Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that he should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end." I love this passage, particularly the bolded part.  It is so beautiful to me.  Think about it with me.

This is the same chapter where Jesus identifies his betrayer and tells Peter, his most exuberant disciple, that he will deny him thrice before the rooster crows.  His time in the world is not long at this point. Jesus goes on to teach for a few more chapters before his arrest but I find it so interesting that this is how the chapter starts.  I think this passage is a beautiful expression of both Jesus' humanness and Godliness. Jesus knows in his heart his time is short and so he takes this time (chapters 13-17) to spend time with those whom he dearly loves.  He spends it imparting wisdom, feasting, and teaching them lessons that will serve them for the rest of their lives.  That is the Godly part of him being revealed.  I can appreciate the Godly part because his words affect my life today. It is the human part though that resonates.  With his time short on the earth, Jesus chooses those who walk with him over anyone else. They are his disciples yes. But they are his friends as well.  He loved them with his dying breath.

Now I know of course that Jesus' love is eternal and he has always and will always love his disciples as well as all of us.  The human part of him loves his friends like we love our friends. To the end. And I love that. To me it shows that he how human he was. Sometimes I think when reading through the gospels I forget that beyond the miracles and red letter words is a human. I love this passage because it explicitly says that He loves us to the end. To the end of our lives or the end of eternity he loves us to the end.  This passage served as a gentle reminder that I am a little like my savior because I love my friends to the end as well. The end of my life or this season I am in. I don't know if this is encouraging but I hope it will be.
God Bless y'all

Monday, September 16, 2013

God of Miracles

Some times, when life gets a little hectic, we just need a miracle. Something small or large from the Lord that tells me that he hasn't forgotten me.  This morning I prayed for a miracle. I needed something. I was and am feeling more than a little bit under the weather. Being sick makes me tired and cranky like it does most people. Its also when I am sick that often I forget to include my Creator in how bad I feel. I sometimes think that the Lord does not have time to make sick Zach better.  He has got wars, revivals and the like to worry about. 

This morning I just needed something. A little bit of God. Just a shade of attention. A reminder of his providence and unfailing love because I am human. I forget that I forget that, per psalm 139, that even if I make my home in the depths of the ocean, He is there and his righteous right hand upholds me.  When I am sick an found wanting that my Savior is there, offering completion in Him.

There are times when my soul and my spirit cry out louder than my voice.  Today was one of those times.  The depth of my depravity overwhelms me sometimes.  There are mornings when I wake up and can barely face the day.  There are days when I do not feel like I can continue on in the everyday dredge that is life sometimes.  This morning though, the Lord offered me hope in the smallest way, but a way that meant the most. 

This morning I breathlessly called out to the Lord for a miracle.  My voice was not actually involved. My spirit, my very aching heart called  out to the Lord for a display of how good He is.  I was on the verge of packing the day in and trying again tomorrow. I went for lunch and, in what is a hazard of having to bank accounts, used the wrong card to pay for food. The transaction didn't go through and I was left standing there trying to figure out why my card didn't work.  Sixty seconds later, a friend that I did not see in line comes out of no where and pays for my food.  They wished me a good day and walked away. Now I sit here writing this, worshiping my God and thanking Him for thinking of me.  It was a small yet needed reminder that I am never far from Him. Even when I feel that way, like today, I just need to look up and see him providing for my needs. The Lord showed me my growth in desire for him.  My Father in heaven, in one act, breathed life into me. He whispered "I love you my son" to me and smiled. Warmth filled me as realization of what is true overtook the crushing lies of the evil one. Jesus loves me this I know; and I wanted to share it with you.

God Bless

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hopelessness Is A Lie

I woke up this morning with a splitting headache.  It actually began last night.  Have you ever been fed up with a situation? Or a person even? Maybe it is their problems that you are fed up with.  Far too often I have been fed up recently.  This bothers me a great deal because if I am short on compassion then there is a short circuit elsewhere. 

When this happens, often I just need a lesson in love from my ever steady and loving Father.  Other times, like this time, I have become so "me" centered that I no longer have the capacity for compassion on my friends. 

One of Satan's great tools is discouragement.  If he cannot disrupt your ministry as a believer directly, he will go the indirect route.  As believers, and really as humans, we thrive upon hope. Hope for a better life, an improved station in life, brighter circumstances, the fading of night and the coming light of morning.  Hope is central in each of our lives when it comes to loving and especially having compassion. Hope tells us that while things might be bad in our lives or another's life that we are involved in, through companionship, fellowship, and prayer, there is another side to the madness.  The example could be someone struggling with cancer.  But it could also be roommates fighting and being snarky.  Major or minor, hope can guide us home in these situations. 

Hopelessness though sneaks in life a thief in the night.  All it takes is feeling overwhelmed and loosing sight that the Lord is good. Just long enough for the idea of their being "no end" to take root, for us to begin to worry.  Over time we begin to believe the lie. The lie says,

 "No matter the problem, big or small, that person wont change, this situation is insurmountable. Don't bother with trying to help, no, don't even bother with praying.  God is not big enough for this."

It sounds ridiculous when spelled out but these very words have been spoken to us all at one point in time.  Of the above examples I have experienced both. I have checked out before.  Hopelessness is powerful and nearly claimed my life.  It steals love because love is full of purpose. It captures compassion because you are fed up with trying to love in the midst of hopelessness. 

The truth is that we must hold fast to hope and choose joy.  Having once been in a situation where I had been given a death date I can say that my God is bigger than death because that date passed over 4 years ago and I am still here writing these words.  He is bigger than roommate disagreements because the Lord turned that living situation into one of the favorite times in my college career. 

My prayer is that anyone who happens to read this will take a second and remember all that the Lord has done. Look back at His faithfulness and then look forward at the problems you are facing.  We must be like the people of Israel and be people who remember what the Lord has done.  His power is greater and if it was greater once it will be so again.  We must remember how great his love was once if we can then reciprocate it. Hopelessness is a lie. Tell it so and cast it out. Then walk in love and compassion as our Father does.

God Bless