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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What do I want to be remembered for?

This is a tough question to ask of myself. Mainly because if I answer honestly then I must in turn have the kind of character it takes to be remembered in such a way. Then I must think of the inevitability that I will leave loved ones behind one day and I must put myself in their shoes. It makes me think of how I hope the people I care about most perceive me, and even more so how I have treated them and made them feel.

Specifically, I want to be remembered in many different ways depending on the person doing the remembering. I know this may not make sense but I think that we all tend to play different roles in different relationships and we all want to be remembered for the roles we have played. There are some people in my life that I would like to be remembered as a leader who is strong and courageous and others that I would like to remember me as a devoted and faithful servant. There are those I would like to think of me as a stern, righteous, no-nonsense type and those that I hope could see me as a fun-loving, lackadaisical, goofball. I don't believe that would mean changing who I am or not being the same with everyone. Like Shrek says.....I am like an onion. I have layers and I'd like for people to be able to see different levels of those layers.

Generally, there is one thing that I would like for everyone I meet to remember me for. Most of all I don't want to be remembered second. I know that anything good in me is not my own doing so I can take no credit for it. Christ is who I want people to see most of all. Even within my "layers" I hope that Christ is most prevalent. If nothing else from my life is spoken of other than the way that Christ has redeemed me then my life is a success. I want His work in my life to be remembered. He transformed me from a broken, hopeless, misdirected, addicted, lustful, angry, lonely, and self destructive state and made me a new creation. Through Christ I have a purpose, I have joy and I have been set free. All of my dispositions, my character, and my actions are owed to His work in my life. I am nothing without grace.

The previous paragraph may seem cliche'. I am comfortable with that. I am not one to be very cliche' but in this case I believe it is the only way to be. I have learned in the past few months just how heavily I rely on God to nudge me in the right direction. Well, "nudge" is a bit of an understatement, but you know what I mean. I have realized while typing this that everything that I would like to be remembered for can be accredited to grace. That realization has led me to the conclusion that I don't want to be remembered at all. Without grace I am a bitter, sarcastic, selfish, know-it-all that doesn't deserve all of the love I have been blessed by. Who would want to be remembered by all of their worst qualities? Don't remember me. Remember who redeemed me. Remember who is the Redeemer.

Monday, February 7, 2011

How has God restored me?

In the past few weeks I have noticed a supernatural joy in my life. It has been taking place over the past few months but I am just now aware of it. On this blog under the "about me" portion I wrote that I am like a dog in that my joy comes from the love of my Master, and when I am most in His will. I believe that this statement is true. Over the past few months I have learned how to focus my attention on God and the things concerning His kingdom. As I continue to make strides to follow His plan in my life I have found that everything else seems to be working out in my favor. Not to say that bad things will not arise, but there is a peace in my life regardless.

Before I found The Experience (my church home) I had a lot of bitterness toward church. I had been hurt by a group of believers and had a hard time getting involved with any other church. Over the course of a couple of years and after visiting a few churches I felt that my heart would always carry that scar. My first time visiting the Experience I felt the Holy Spirit move and take away some of that pain. Every time I have been back I feel that I have been able to shed some of that burden. This is the first way that God has restored me in the past few months.
Another burden I had carried for a while was that of loneliness. In a very short time frame I lost almost everyone dear to me. Within about six months my two closest friends moved out of state, the girl I thought I was going to marry and I separated, and the church I had loved since childhood all but kicked me to the curb. I felt like every person that I could rely on to keep me strong was gone. Looking back I realize that God was using this time to show me how to rely on His love in my life. He wanted me to know how to fall back on Him and Him alone. Slowly over the last few months, God has been restoring those kinds of relationships in my life. Through the Experience I have gained some amazing friendships and met a beautiful, funny, uplifting, God-loving, breath taking girl. I prayed endlessly for these kinds of relationships in my life. Although, it was not until I was content in not having them that God put them back into my life. I realize now where my priorities were and where the ought to be.

Maybe the most drastic restoration in my life over the past few months has been my sense of purpose. Throughout the time that I spent "church hopping" I was not serving in any capacity. I would go to work throughout the week and go to church on a semi-regular basis on Sunday. As I have gotten more and more involved at the Experience my heart has yearned for a place to serve. I am excited to get involved with just about everything that is going on at that church. Recently, God has given me a calling to work with homeless people. Today we prepared our first Sunday morning breakfast that we distributed to some of the more needy in our community. Knowing that God used me to feed those who may go hungry is a humbling and exciting sensation. Nothing feels better than knowing you are doing exactly what God has ordained you to do. I spent so much time feeling like a drone. I felt as if my life didn't matter and that I was making no difference in this world. In the past months I have found not only peace but purpose in my life again. Without peace and purpose there is no room for hope. As I have grown in my walk with Christ my hope has been restored.

My life has been blown away
like a shepherd’s tent in a storm.
It has been cut short,
as when a weaver cuts cloth from a loom.
Suddenly, my life was over.
13 I waited patiently all night,
but I was torn apart as though by lions.
Suddenly, my life was over.
14 Delirious, I chattered like a swallow or a crane,
and then I moaned like a mourning dove.
My eyes grew tired of looking to heaven for help.
I am in trouble, Lord. Help me!”

15 But what could I say?
For he himself sent this sickness.
Now I will walk humbly throughout my years
because of this anguish I have felt.
16 Lord, your discipline is good,
for it leads to life and health.
You restore my health
and allow me to live!
17 Yes, this anguish was good for me,
for you have rescued me from death
and forgiven all my sins.
18 For the dead[c] cannot praise you;
they cannot raise their voices in praise.
Those who go down to the grave
can no longer hope in your faithfulness.
19 Only the living can praise you as I do today.
Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next.
20 Think of it—the Lord is ready to heal me!
I will sing his praises with instruments
every day of my life
in the Temple of the Lord.

Isaiah 38:12-20

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why fast?

I wonder how often people think about God. On any given day I think about eating multiple times. I think about the girl I like multiple times. I think about my guitar a few times. I think about video games a lot. I think about my zombie plan at least once a week. I think about my favorite shows quite often. I think about sports too often. I am not sure on a given day how much I think about God. I am not talking about praising Him….just thinking about Him in general. I have just started a 40 day fast in which I am giving up video games, secular media, and some foods. In the three days since I started this fast I have thought about God in some form or fashion almost continuously. That has led to more time in prayer and more time studying the Word. I almost want to continue this fast for as long as I can so that this never ends. I am already thinking about selling my x box in order to keep this going in my life. It makes me wonder what else I can cut out in order to have more of Him in my life. I have not missed the foods. I have not missed the games. I have missed sports but that is mainly because it is bowl season and I love me some college football. Even missing out on football is nothing compared to the amount of joy I have felt with just three short days of directing my attention to God. I find myself laughing while praying to Him. I have never done that before. Almost laughing because I can feel that what I am saying is humorous to Him. Every time I eat something because of the fast or pick up a book to read instead of turning on the tv or play Christian music I am reminded of why I am doing these things-To grow in my relationship with my Creator. It makes me wonder what I give up on a daily basis. Did I really give up anything when I became a Christian. The Bible says to take up your cross and follow Him. To die to yourself daily. Have I done this at all prior to this fast? I may have stopped cussing, drinking, lying. I may have lived “as Christians should”. For a while I had to think about those things and had to work to make them a habit but at some point that was no longer a daily battle. What have I died to lately? What cross have I bore for my Lord recently? What areas of my life can I better glorify God? These questions have been popping in my head as I spend more time with God. I am embarrassed to think of how little I think of the God of the Universe with all of His majesty around me and how much I think of the minuscule things of this world. Today I made the comment “My x box is being rejected” because it has been off for three days, but when was the last time I realized the same thing about my relationship with God. If nothing else this fast has made me appreciate the ability to spend time with my Maker. It is astonishing to me that He would ever love me when I have ignored him for so long. I am utterly amazed that He continues to pursue me when I continually brush Him off for such insignificant things. What a marvelous and wonderful God I serve. It is my prayer that the convictions I have right now only grow stronger and that my relationship with Him is forever transformed by these experiences.

Monday, May 25, 2009

What can I learn from death?

Today was a rough day. It was tough to see so much pain in the eyes of people I love and respect. I got another taste of how fragile life can be this afternoon. One of my best friends since childhood lost his mother today. She was only 48. I remember growing up viewing his family as my own, knowing that if I ever needed anything they would be there for me. She was always there for others and I respected her strength. I owe a lot of who I am today to them. When I was younger my mom took me to church and taught me how to be a righteous and moral person but somewhere along the way we quit going. I remember it was his family that invited me to church again...and it was because of them I decided to continue in my faith. I don't know that I have ever told them, but I don't know that I would have ever gotten so deeply involved without their encouragement.

Death can teach you a lot about how you perceive people. I never really sat down and thought about what I thought of her. I didn't try to avoid it...It just never crossed my mind. I didn't see her often, especially after high school. My relationship with the family is due to my friendship...but I have always viewed his parents as role models in my life. This experience has made me realize how much I truly love and respect them. I am only now realizing how much they meant to me growing up.

I have never really been one to take life for granted but in times of loss one gains a bit more understanding of the frailty of life. A week ago there was nothing wrong with her. A couple days ago she was in the hospital with full expectancy of a full recovery. Life is a gift.

Perhaps, for many of us, all experience merely defines, so to speak, the shape of that gap where our love of God ought to be. It is not enough. It is something. If we cannot "practice the presence of God," it is something to practice the absence of God, to become increasingly aware of our unawareness...
C. S. Lewis, in The Four Loves: Charity.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What motivates me?

I am not very sure what it is exactly that motivates me. While at work I usually have an unconscious desire to do well and work hard but I am not too sure where that desire comes from. I could say that it comes from a desire to do all things as if I were doing it unto my Father and therefore I try to always be at my best, but I am not sure that is the whole truth. There are times when I feel tired or just plain lazy that I remind myself of that truth and soldier on but that's not the case every time I am certain. I feel obligated at work to earn my not be lazy...essentially make sure that I am worth every penny that is paid to me. I am not sure where that mindset comes from....I do not know what made me feel this way. I do know that it is not something that I always embrace. There are many times I feel like slacking off, but more times than not my conscience gets to me and I pick it up.
In life I think what motivates me to keep my head up is hope. Hope is what allows me to be joyful in turbulant times. I have a hope for a future, a hope for greater things to come according to phillipians. If it were not for my belief in that truth it would be difficult to see light at the end of the tunnel during life's darker times. Hope is easy when it is accompanied by faith. I especially have a hard time seeing how someone could be an optimist without faith. If it were not for my belief and understanding of the promises that God has issued to all who believe, it would be easy for me to be very skeptical of good things to come...especially considering the current condition of our country.
I believe I draw a lot of motivation from my family. Though it is not in the form of encouragement as most would expect. I feel as though I am depended upon to be strong, to be an emotional and spiritual foundation for them. I feel like they believe me to be the strongest and depend on me to "have the right answer" in any given situation that involves life's struggles. Some people would consider that a lot of baggage and responsibility but I believe a sense of that responsibility to be strong is what, in fact, makes me stronger. When I encounter times in my life that I don't feel like trudging along for sake of myself I can always draw strength from the thought of being strong for my family. I only hope they realize that my strength is not strength at all but weakness. I draw strength from surrender.
In fun I am motivated by an unnatural obsession with success, as kevin would put it. I am extremely competitve in pretty much anything. I do not have a problem with long as I feel like I should have lost. My competitive nature is more directed inward. I expect to improve every time I do something. Basketball has been my new addiction to success. We play every week and losing is fine but I must get better every week or I am bothered by it until the next week. I don't believe this to be anything other than a natural masculine drive to be successful. It has it's advantages and disadvantages. At times, if I can turn something into a competition then it can motivate me to do far more than I would normally. For example, betting who can go without sweets the longest or who can lose the most weight each week makes it much easier for me to live a healthier life than just trying to do so without a competitive edge. The downside to such a competitive nature is that some things....such as video games...are not much fun unless I am winning. It's good I usually win i guess...ha ha.
In general I believe my motivation for all things comes from the Holy Spirit inside of me. The Holy Spirit is who motivates me to fight my sin nature and be the kind of man that is expected of me. The Holy Spirit is what drives me to be more than a conquerer, to not have a spirit of timidity, to be bold in the face of darkness, and to percevere and have faith when I am weak and disheartened. I am nothing when depending on my own strength, therefore, I can hope and draw strength from myself. My hope is found in Christ alone and in that hope I am motivated to do all I can to bring glory to my Father.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What do i want from life?

I want many things from life. I do not want many specifics though, which might be odd. The only specific things I want in life is a wife, a family, and a means to provide for them. Those things that are not so specific are a little harder to "go out and get".
I want to be a vessel in which lives are changed....for the better. I want to glorify God. I want to see people come to the Lord. I want to be a man of faith, righteousness, love, strength, boldness, courage, reverence, wisdom, and valor.
I do not want to fall to temptation. I do not want to let anyone down. I do not want to be afraid of vulnerability but at the same time I do not want to be naive. I do not want to be ordinary. I do not want to settle for average.
I want to make Him known. I want to be an example of truth. I want to make my family proud.
I want to be a provider. I long for a family to nurture and a woman to serve beside.
I desire whatever God has in store for me. Whether He wants me in a hut half way across the world or here in middle TN, I want to do His will.