Friday, March 6, 2015

Beautiful mess.

March, 2015. Nineteen days and counting until I am a married man. It's still a bit surreal to think that Rebecca and I have made it to the month that we'll join together in marriage. The road we took to get here was not the easiest, in fact, we took the hardest route we could. It wasn't by choice, but thats what happens when you make a mess, you have to take the time to clean it up. You have to go the extra mile or two. 

Rebecca makes fun of me when I cook or eat, because I am messy. There is rarely a time I don't leave a wake of messiness to clean after I've interacted with food. She smiles and says "How do you make such a mess?" and of course I defend myself and say "I am so busy cooking I don't have time to notice it!" but really, I'm embarrassed because I know she's right. I am messy. 

I wish I could say my messes are contained to the kitchen but that would be a lie. The Lord has shown me, in so many ways, just how messy I am. I'm a bull in a china shop when it comes to my life at times. I think if God could show a highlight reel of my messiest moments, I'd slump on to the floor and melt in a puddle of shame. How I've treated people with no true regard to their feelings. How I am so quick to act on emotion, rather than take time to think. How I've hurt the closest people in my life by my selfish choices. The list goes on to make a devastating earthquake look like an easy saturday chore.

Our love story in particular, is messy. It's not elegant or pretty. It's worn and battered. It's been a war of picking up the pieces of our own selfishness and figuring out how to put it back together as a cohesive, loving unit. We became handymen in our own love story. If it was going to work, we'd have to work. 

And it's a mess that changed everything. 

Have you ever made a mess so big that you didn't even know how to attempt to clean it up? Yeah... that was what I had achieved. It was so large in scale, that we accepted what had happened and we left the mess for no one to clean up. Instead of cleaning house, we burned it down. The end was all but certain. There was nothing left to do, nothing left to say, nothing that could change things. And in that moment, when I had little faith and a lot of grief, God started to clean up the mess. 

Picture God with a mop in a big room with nothing but dirt and grime from floor to ceiling. That's what I like to picture to get the story across. 

It was like a drop in the ocean. It was so small that I didn't even notice it. But what man cannot do, God can most certainly do tenfold... And He did. 

Time had passed. SO much time had passed. And before I knew it, I was checking in on that mess, just to see it again. Except, this time, the mess had been cleaned up a bit. The mess went from catastrophic proportions on a global level to a teenagers dirty room. What had happened that this mess no longer looks impossible? God went to work in our hearts. You see, the big empty room with dirt and grime from top to bottom wasn't the mess we made, it was our hearts. God was purging the selfishness and the brokenness little by little and in turn helped rid us of our pride and shame. That gave us new perspective. That gave us a vision of our mess we didn't see before. 

Have you ever seen something so big and awe inspiring, then years later you come back to see it, and it turns out to be pretty small and lame? That's because as time goes on, our perspective changes. Internally, we are changing with everything we encounter in life, and this is how God worked things out for us spiritually. Our mess looked like the end of it all, but after time, that mess was manageable and easily cleaned up. God took two broken people and made them see through their own messy hearts and brought them together. I am so thankful that God took on the hard work of our mess, to allow us to be together today. It wasn't easy, and It would be a lie to say I didn't have my doubts and faithless days but this is what grace is.. When I don't deserve anything, God gives me everything. And in this marriage I am about to enter into, I pray that God would be glorified, and His love would be magnified in and through me, even in my future messes. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Body.

Sunday morning - 10am.

My alarm goes off.

I rub the tired out of my eyes and get out of my warm bed.

I brush my teeth and proceed to get in my Sunday best, the way Mom had raised me to.

I drink the last sip of coffee from my mug, throw on my shoes and look out the window.

It's a gloomy day with cold rain pouring down without a moments rest. I grab my rain coat and walk out the door.

I turn on my favorite worship playlist. It's in this moment every Sunday that I try and prepare my heart and mind for worship. Sometimes it works. Sometimes I'm still half asleep. Regardless, It's my thing.

I pull into the full parking lot, this is where the enemy starts his attack. I'm tempted to get angry at the lack of parking spaces, the pedestrians taking their time, the thought of walking a long distance in this rain. I shake it off and begin my walk to the front doors of the sanctuary.

I trudge through the slush of snow left from days past, while the droplets of water topple down on the hood of my coat. It's in this moment that my heart has peace. The enemy attacked. But peace triumphs frustration on this serene morning.

As I enter the sanctuary, a warm rush of air hits my face, it's a relief from the cold. It's a reminder that I am welcome in this place.

Immediately, people are everywhere, from every stage of life. children. elderly. middle aged. college kids. black. white. rich. poor. The diversity isn't apparent until you take a good hard look around. It's something that drew me this place of worship in the first place.

I walk from the narthex to the sanctuary doors. An elderly usher hands me a bulletin and exclaims, "Good morning!"  I nod my head, give a smirk and walk quietly to my usual seat.

I see friends and strangers all sitting mixed together. I embrace friends and give my "hello's" before worship begins.

Worship begins. You can hear the hymnal pages turning. Organ blaring loud.

 Hymns. Something I wasn't very fond of when first coming to this church. I was used to my Hillsong United and Chris Tomlin. Hymns were out of the comfort zone I had built up. I just didn't feel anything when I sang hymns. This almost deterred me from attending this church. Something as little as the type of songs we sang almost ran me out of the most welcoming church I had walked into since I moved to Kentucky, I chuckle at the thought today.

I'm certain God also found it amusing when He realized my "dilemma." He continued to work in my heart and challenged me to look at the core of the church, not just one part of the body. Today, I love singing hymns.

The church, after all, is made up of many parts. We may favor our right hands, but our left hand has worth of its own. The choir director picks hymns that he believes will uplift and encourage us. He has worth. He has gifts.

The service continues with the Lords prayer, tithes and offering, more hymns, responsive readings, and then the sermon.

The pastor is someone I've come to respect. The way he articulates himself and brings the gospel truth into the theme of his message always floors me. It's almost like clockwork that the last 10 minutes of his messages bring the heat. In this 10 minutes he wraps his entire 30 minute message into one huge serving of spiritual truth that nourishes the soul. This sunday was no different. I nod my head in agreement with his words. My heart literally rejoices in hearing truth. You know the feeling. The feeling where you know without a doubt that the truth being told to you is good for your soul. Your soul literally leaps and sings inside of you. It cannot be described any other way than a true blessing.

After the sermon ends, the ushers and elders come forward to pass out communion. It's in this moment each sunday that I stop and reflect on my character, who I am as a Christian man. I reflect on what Christ did for me. I reflect on my sins. In this moment I look up and I see a room full of sinners, sinners that Christ paid the ultimate price for. In this diverse room filled with people of all ages and all races, we are all the same children of God. We are the same body of Christ.

As communion comes and goes, we are met with the benediction, and in turn, the end of corporate worship.

People stand up and gather their coats, bibles, bulletins, etc.

I just sit there observing. I look at the church. Not the building. The body of Christ. The people who are quietly getting up and heading to the exits. In this moment, it's just me. My heart is full and I am ready for whatever type of week I am handed. It's hard for me not to think to myself "I want everyone to have this. I want everyone to experience this."

This is why I support going to church. This is why I will encourage friends, relatives, co-workers, even strangers to attend church. Do I believe that church isn't for everyone? For a season, yes, some people may benefit from time away. Some seasons last longer than others. It is my opinion, however, that when you find the right church and plug yourself into that community, you will be filled up and sustain a healthy spiritual journey. Is church limited to sunday mornings? Absolutely not. Is church the only way you can spiritually "fill up" as some would call it? Absolutely not. I believe It merely is one of the easiest ways to access community, servant-hood, worship, biblical knowledge, etc.

 The longest I've gone without church is two years. In those two years I was at the lowest spiritual point in my life. So, from my own personal journey, this is why I cherish church. It works for me. I know the bible urges us to involve ourselves in church and community, so I work at it. Yes, you heard me, sometimes church is work. But at the end of the day, it's rewarding, like most things we work for.

I will also say this.

Church is not limited to a building, nor is it limited to worship and a 30 minute sermon. WE are the church. We work. We help. We build. We do life. We are the body.

In my own personal experience, my whole 25 years of life, I am convinced that sunday morning worship (full of sinners who make mistakes, like myself) and living out the body of Christ in my everyday life is exactly what was intended. It was the dream. It was the bigger picture that Christ gave to the apostles. It's not limited. It's meant to flourish together as a working unit of many members.

It's a matter of spiritual well-being. It's worth discussing. It's worth praying about.

I urge everyone who reads this to take a moment and survey your heart. Are you a sunday morning, coffee toting, bible thumper who raises his hand in worship -- then walks out the door and lives a selfish life against the body of Christ? Or maybe you're the non-church goer. You have survived this long on your own. You don't need corporate worship. Things are fine. You find your quiet times, you know the verses, you find your community in your own way. Is it enough?  Are you spiritually satisfied? Are you accountable to your moods, your thoughts, your ideals? Is there discipline? Are you lonely?

We need each other.

Let's be everything that Christ knows we can be and do it in a way that glorifies His name.

Monday, January 27, 2014


It's quite possible that the two hardest things to ever say are: "I was wrong, I'm sorry." and "I forgive you."

Mending broken relationships, whether being the offender or the offended, can be absolutely painful. It can be awkward. It can be filled with anger. It can be filled with fear. It can be filled with just about anything, depending on the situation at hand. When your heart is hurting over something someone has done to you or your heart is hurting because you know you've hurt someone in some way, we carry an invisible weight that we cannot see, but boy, do we feel the weight we carry. It's the feeling of pushing a boulder uphill. We push and push but the task seems so daunting that we become discouraged. We lose heart. We face many doubts. We tell ourselves "I cannot forgive this person." or "I cannot apologize, because I wasn't wrong." We hold on to the one thing that will ultimately be our own undoing -- pride. Pride is a monster. It tells us that we must respect ourselves and hold sacred our honor first and foremost. That is dangerous, because once it becomes about us, we push everything else out. Reason, understanding, compassion, our ability to apologize or accept someone elses apology. Pride shields us from looking weak. Pride protects us from being vulnerable. Pride feeds us enough propaganda to keep our weapons drawn and our hearts in the fight. We see the dangers of pride in the verses below:

"The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart, “Who will bring me down to the ground?” -Obadiah 1:3

"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." -Proverbs 16:18

"Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin." -Proverbs 21:4

 I found myself in a quarrel with my old boss shortly before I resigned from a previous job. My boss and I had a pretty good relationship for quite some time, unfortunately, we didn't see things eye to eye one day and things went south. Tempers flared, we put on our armor and went to war with one another. It wasn't a ground war with attacks back and forth, but instead, a nuclear war. We both dropped bombs on one another and severed all ties. It was done. There were brief discussions of negotiations but I was given another job opportunity and I took it. That was the icing on the cake of an already terrible situation. Of course, I felt like I was right in everything that happened. They wronged me and I would not work for someone who didn't respect me. I continued to justify my actions and tell myself how I was so terribly, terribly hurt. It took a long time. It took some healing. It took some perspective. It took me letting go of the one thing that wouldn't allow me to "admit defeat" as it would call it -- pride. Once I put my weapons down and took a hard look at the situation, I realized that there were many things I could have done better. There were things that I was wrong about. Once pride was out of the equation, which should have happened sooner, I knew that I needed to make things right. Sure, there were still things they did to me that were wrong. Things I was accused of that I didn't do. But, in the grand scheme of things, was it worth holding onto? Would I really let that imprison me for the rest of me life, just because I didn't receive an apology? No. It's not worth it. It never is. Forgiveness sets us free. Apologizing and admitting our mistakes sets us free.

Jesus tells us the importance of forgiveness: “If you forgive people their sins, your Father in heaven will forgive your sins also. 15 If you do not forgive people their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." -Matt 6:14-15

 He also tells us the importance of apologizing and making it right: "
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." -Matthew 5:9

I eventually reached out to my old boss and asked for his forgiveness. I apologized for my mistakes and also let him know that I forgave him of anything I felt wronged for. The peace that I received after that was worth  pushing that boulder up the hill. It was hard. It took time and energy. It was awkward and frustrating. But at the end of the day, the Lord told me what the right thing to do was. It wasn't the easy option, but it was the right option. Most of the hard things God asks of us, builds us up in ways we can't even imagine. We mature. We grow in wisdom. We build in character. The Lord becomes ever more present in our daily lives. It's a very spiritual thing to make amends.

So maybe you've got a bad situation with someone currently, things aren't good. Maybe you're the offending party, perhaps you're the offended. But I challenge you to consider letting it go. To approach them in humble spirit and talking it out. They may not listen to you. They may curse you. Do it anyway. You will not only release the weight you're holding, you will grow spiritually, and you will be obeying Jesus in your deeds.

Or maybe someone has approached you and asked for forgiveness, yet you are withholding it from them. I also challenge you to accept the apology and move on. There is no worth in holding on to a grudge. There is no worth in living in the past. Life is moving forward, while you sit in a prison of pride that keeps you living in the past. Day after day, you are filled with anger, malice, bitterness, or even ill-will. I assure you, that person whom you will not forgive is not in the same prison you are. If they have approached you with an apology, they are free and no longer hold the burden that you carry. Let it go. Let them go. Move forward. Pride isn't worth it, friend.

I end with encouragement from Jesus out of Luke 6:27-31: "
I say to you who hear Me, love those who work against you. Do good to those who hate you. 28 Respect and give thanks for those who try to bring bad to you. Pray for those who make it very hard for you. 29 Whoever hits you on one side of the face, turn so he can hit the other side also. Whoever takes your coat, give him your shirt also. 30 Give to any person who asks you for something. If a person takes something from you, do not ask for it back. 31 Do for other people what you would like to have them do for you."

Let it go.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The end of one life, the beginning of another.

I started the month of January with a pep in my step. Things in life have been looking up. I have the job, the girl, a good living situation, a church I love attending, among many other things. This current season of life has been blessed to say the least, however, things can't stay that way forever.

On January 9th, my first born nephew, Branson Thayer passed away in his sleep.

Words cannot express the sadness and grief that this shock has caused myself and my family. I had just woken up when I got the call, I remember laying in my bed weeping. How could this happen? How could such a precious child be taken? Why? Why not me? These are simply a sample of the things that flew though my mind in the middle of this pain.

I remember sitting on my couch in a blur wondering if this was all just a dream. It wasn't.

I loaded up the car and started driving to Florida. A trip from Kentucky to Florida is about 14 hours depending on where you're going. An assortment of things swirled in my thoughts. Branson, my brother and his wife, and my desire to be with my family. I knew that I wanted to be close and serve them in any way I possibly could. I didn't want to just be another presence. I wanted to help. My time to grieve would come. Their time to grieve was right now.

The days flew by for me, although I don't think they did for my brother and sister in law. To them, it must have felt like a single day was a year without their precious boy. The visitiation and the celebration of his life came and went. Tears were shed and hugs were given. This boy was loved and the amount of people that came to honor his life, give support, and love on my family was absolutely amazing. God delivered helpers and people with hearts that reflected Christ by the boat loads.

I was afraid to leave Florida and return home. What if I still needed my family? What if they needed me? Doubt came over me like a rain cloud, but I think we all know deep down that we have to get used to the new normal. The new normal of not having that precious little boy with us anymore. It's tragic and sad what happened. None of us are likely to ever be the same people we once were, but the blessed assurance is that Branson is happier and healthier than we could ever dream. He is in heaven with the Lord. The beautiful thing is knowing that we will join him one day. He will run to us with a smile on his face, I can already hear his infectious giggle and feel his warm embrace.

It is true, to live is Christ to die is gain.

Monday, September 16, 2013

8 things I've learned in 25 years of living. (so far)

Over the past few weeks I've realized a reoccurring theme in conversations with friends. The topic being how we felt like we knew it all when we were 18 years old and again when we were 21, thinking that we had everything figured out and that we were so much more mature than we really were. We thought we had grown to the peak of knowledge and understanding of life, when in actuality -- we didn't.

Here I sit at 25 years old, hopefully a little bit wiser and definitely a bit more mature from the obstacles life has dealt me. It's not hard to look at the younger generations and see the same mistakes, quirks, and arrogance that I myself carried at a younger age. Many times I'll smirk at the things I'll see posted on facebook or overhear in a conversation from the younger generation, remembering being in those same shoes once before. At 25 I've learned many of lifes lessons, most of which came through trial and error, making me a bit more keen to certain things and hopefully preparing me for the next obstacles that come my way.

I wanted to share what I've learned, firstly so that I can remind myself where I've been and how thankful to the Lord for bringing me to where I am. Secondly, so that I can share a bit of wisdom with anyone who wants to learn from a guy who is famous for learning things the hard way. Third, I hope that one day my children can hear my stories and learn some lessons from them. No, I'm not married yet and I don't see children coming into my life for awhile -- but you better believe I pray for my future family every single day. Why not get an early start?

So, ready or not here are 8 things I've learned (So far) in 25 years of life (in no certain order) -- please keep in mind that these are molded from my personal experiences-- I am in no way shape or form claiming to be all knowing or wise. I simply want to share a little bit or perspective with the world.

#1. Be real with yourself.
How many times have I painted a grand masterpiece in my head, only to find out how unrealistic I was being? Too many times. At a young age I had visions of grandeur with what I wanted my life to be. Don't get me wrong, I think it's important to dream big and pursue your dreams. But BE REAL with yourself, you must know what you can do and what you can't do. Every ones story is different, sometimes things do happen fast and all at once, other times they take years to accomplish. Make realistic plans with realistic expectations. Be patient. Take your time. Don't rush. At 18 I wanted to be married, have a career, and a family by the time I was 21 -- that didn't happen, because I wasn't being real with myself. I wrote a life check for $1,000,000,000 when my life bank only had $1.50 in it. It turned out that Gods plan was way better than the fantasy I had imagined in my head.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11

#2. Work hard every day of your life.
Boy, do I wish I had instilled this into my head at 18 years old. After moving from Lake Placid, FL, where my job experience was working about 15 hours a week, to Lexington, KY where I needed a full-time 40hr a week job, reality set in that just doing the minimum wasn't enough. I got my first job at UPS and they worked me like a dog. I quit after two weeks because they were rude, but lets be real, I was a pampered sissy boy who hadn't worked a demanding job in my life -- I couldn't handle it. I bounced around from part-time job to part-time job receiving mediocre reviews from managers. It took me a couple more years before I realized I needed a better work ethic and an appreciation for the work the Lord had provided for me. When you get a job, take it serious and work hard from the time you clock in until you clock out. There is something admirable about someone who comes home from work exhausted, with dirty hands, and a need for a shower. And don't merely work hard at your job. Work hard for friends, family, and loved ones in whatever task they ask of you. It improves character and humbles us -- putting others before us in an act of servant hood.

"For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living." - 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12

#3. Own your mistakes.
This doesn't even really require a whole lot of breaking down. When you make a mistake whether it be big or small, don't brush it off and place the blame elsewhere. You should own your mistakes in whatever situation it may be. I know it's difficult facing someone you've hurt or let down. It's tough facing your critics when you make a giant mistake, you want to disappear or run away, but don't let your pride interfere with your need to take ownership of the situation. In most experiences I've encountered in my 25 years, people respected me more when I took ownership instead of avoiding it, being defensive or dishonest about it. If you mess up, own it and move on.

"Though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand." - Psalm 37:24

#4. Listen more, talk less.
This one is something I've tried to heed to much more than I used to. We live in a society where its texting, tweeting, status updates, emails, instagramming, etc. We tend to talk more and listen less -- when in reality it should be the exact opposite. If we aren't listening to what other people are telling us, we have no way of serving or loving them, plain and simple. We need to take a step back and listen to what people are telling us by processing what they are really saying. Sometimes people don't always come out and say what they need, and often times if we just stop and listen to them we can digest it a little better and hear what they are trying to convey to us. Other times, people convey EXACTLY what they want, but we are too busy talking and preparing our next big speech. Sometimes people just want us to listen and not jump in at every other word. So next time you think of something wonderful to say to a friend or loved one who is talking to you -- don't. Wait until they are done, then respond.

"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak." - James 1:19

#5. Don't always be the hero.
This one may leave a few people scratching their heads, but let me explain. I'm not sure if it's a man thing, or if I grew up watching too many super hero movies and cartoons as a kid, but I have always had a heart for helping people in any capacity. This is not to boast, because it's actually a quality that sometimes is obnoxious. Anytime a loved one was in trouble or needed anything, I wanted to be the big hero. I wanted to swoop in and watch that person go from insecure and upset, to assured and content. It's not a bad thing to want to help people, or make someones day by being the hero from time to time but let me assure when I say, sometimes it's okay to do - nothing. Some people don't need a hero. Some people just want you to know whats going on and to listen. Some people need to do things on their own, without your help. It's okay to play the supporting role and not the starring role. Trust the Lord, and pray for that person. I assure you that will do more in the long run, then anything else you could do.

"Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” - Matthew 26:52-54

#6. Find community.
This one is huge to not only living a Godly life, but staying sane through all of lifes obstacles. I cannot stress how important it is to experience corporate worship and community with other believers in every aspect of your life. When I moved to Kentucky seven years ago, I lost every part of the community I had built at my home town in Florida. I didn't realize it then, but that changed who I was and the person I became. God became less of a priority, I stopped going to church for awhile. I lost every ounce of accountability in my life when I lost my community. It's not sudden and it doesn't happen overnight but once you lose that community things get much harder. Now I know some people prefer to be alone or not be with big groups of people, that is fine, so long as they are experiencing community from time to time. Its the permanent isolation from community that will leave you feeling lonely and struggling in many aspects of your life. Once I found my community in Younglife and now in church, I can see the fruit of being connected with friends and other people who really care about me. It's imperative you find that and keep it.

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." - Hebrews 10:24-25

#7. Love her well.
This one is for the fellas - I have no marriage experience so I'll talk about this from the dating perspective. It's impossible not to see how relationships are treated these days. People getting together, people breaking up, people looking for lifetime commitment, and people looking for selfish satisfaction. There are so many variables in dating and most of them are wrong. It's all around us and I understand that some men may be confused with how to act or approach a dating relationship. If I've learned anything, it's this -- Love her well. How do we do this? By genuinely caring for her heart, not controlling it, but by encouraging and treating it with respect. Don't just tell her you care for her, show her you care for her by acts of service and by making her a priority in your life -- Not necessarily the top priority but a clear cut priority that is obvious by your actions. Listen to her and what she is saying. Protect her purity (this is huge). Never stop pursuing her (also huge). Be her best friend. Be honest with her. Make her laugh. Push her to pursue the Lord and ask her to do the same for you. Every man will encounter a woman who has different quirks about her. Take time to learn those quirks and find out who she really is. Take it slow and let the Lord guide you in the relationship. If you fight, work out your differences -- don't be petty and you'd better leave your pride at the door. Relationships are give and take, you cannot go into the relationship with a wish list of things you expect, you'll be doomed for failure. People change and grow, the purpose of dating is to see if you can marry that person. If you find the love of your life, fight for her, but listen for Gods direction. Enjoy the time you have with one another. Things will progress as they need to. Love her well.

"Love never fails" - 1 Corinthians 13:8

#8. Never give up.
In 25 years, there have been so many times I've wanted to quit and walk away. In so many aspects of my life I have seen and witnessed things that would make anyone just want to give up. In high school I quit the soccer team my senior year because I was benched in favor of another player. I told people I quit because I was just tired of playing soccer after almost 12 years. The reality is that things got hard, and when things didn't go my way I gave up. Today, I regret quitting because I loved playing so much. As the years went by, I moved and faced even harder circumstances in life. There were times I wanted to quit and some that I did quit. But through the absolute WORST times in my life -- which I won't mention today -- I was able to keep going. It wasn't easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it made me who I am today. I am stronger and wiser because of Gods comfort telling me to keep pressing on. When I was faced with the seemingly worst situation and I would almost scream to God in anger, a small still voice said "Keep going." I cannot tell you how difficult it was to listen to that voice, but today, I am thankful that I did. So I urge you reader, never give up or quit. God is always with us and his plan is good. We just have to keep the faith. I am so thankful of where I am today.

"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him." - James 1:12

So there are the 8 things I think are super important to remember. I'm sure if I sat here for another couple hours I could make a much longer list, but these are the things that neeeded to be addressed right now. In 5, 10, 20 years from now maybe I'll look back and laugh thinking I had these things figured out.

Or maybe, just maybe, I'll be reminded of where I've come from and how far God has brought me.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Man Up 2012 - A Year In Review - Part 1

It seems so crazy to me how the year 2012 has come and gone so quickly. It's also crazy to me that there were times the days would drag on, never seeming to end.

Looking back at the year I dubbed "Man Up 2012", I have to stop and ask myself the one thing that demands an answer: Did I really man up? In the next few weeks I'm going to post a few entries dedicated to this subject to find out for sure.

These posts aren't about to be a play by play of my life or a diary of any sorts. I have taken some time to think about these posts and I've decided to write down the things that were most meaningful. These are the moments that I took something away and will keep with me the rest of my life.

I succeeded many times this year, I also failed many times this year. Each experience has taught and molded me into a wiser man of God, even if only a little bit. In many ways, It seems I had to fall far away from God in order to become closer to Him. In many ways, I had to figure out that a life of a Christian man is not a life of ease or comfort. It's become clear to me that the days I am most comfortable are the days I am not challenged in any way. Comfort is a place of complacency that looks like joy, it feels like joy, but it isn't true joy at all. Comfort tells us that we are satisfied with everything exactly the way it is. We don't want anyone to touch it. We don't want to work for anything else. We don't want to step outside of that "comfort zone" for fear of losing what we deem is enough.

The question may arise "Isn't comfort in God/Christ a good thing?" and I answer that by saying that Gods comfort is a good thing to seek out and find -- obviously. Gods comfort is different in that He continues to push us and challenge us. God never just leaves us in one spot. We are always growing and learning when we're truly seeking Him out in any way -- even in comfort. The type of comfort that paralyzes us is the one we should be most afraid of, and the one of which I speak.

I digress.

This post isn't to preach on comfort or stepping outside of your box. I am merely conveying that the first thing I learned this year is that complacent comfort is never truly satisfying or beneficial in the long run. It is a mirage that gives us nothing of true spiritual substance.

Why else would we hear in James 1:2-4 that we should consider it joy when we are going through trial? Because a comfortable life doesn't finish it's work in us. Perseverence through trial DOES finish its work in us -- to the extent that we are not lacking ANYTHING.

This post is simply setting up the theme of this year -- Man Up 2012 was a mixture of several learning experiences for me. It is obvious that the overlapping theme that God wanted me to grasp was that I could not man up at all without learning to be totally and utterly uncomfortable -- This lead to an even stronger reliance in Him.

As you'll see in my next entries, this story is just beginning.

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”

Sunday, December 9, 2012

"I paid for this"

It's been quite awhile since I've last written anything. No blogs or journal, nothing to write down my thoughts or opinions. I'm honestly not very good at expressing myself on any type of journal, with the exception of the occasional moments of brillance where I feel like I HAVE to write something down.

Lately, I've been feeling that I need to write something. Not because I wanted to do it just for the sake of doing it, but rather, I've had a reoccuring thought that I can't seem to shake. Most of the time I shake it off and just think "eh, it's just a random thought" and that's the end of it. Not this time. This time I need to speak out.

As some of you know, back in October I participated in an obstacle course called "Tough Mudder" For those of you who have never heard of it, Tough Mudder is a 12 mile obstacle course (with usually about 20 obstacles) through backwood terrain, built by British Special Forces -- (Yeah, I know) It was a bit intense, to say the least. It had fire/smoke, electrical wire fields, artic water, and lots of mud. You PAID to do this and even signed a death waiver before you did it. The way I explain how the experience was -- Awesome and Awful.

That day there was a high of 55 degrees with a windchill of 50. You can't really wear a coat or anything warm while you're participating, so it's pretty much you and the elements. Oh, and the artic water I mentioned before -- was the second obstacle. You are immediately thrown into survival mode. You have to keep yourself warm by running and moving, without stopping for anything. You are leaping walls, jumping over logs, and crawling on your stomach in the cold mud. The water splashes your face. The wind reminds you how vulnerable you are. You're exerting yourself to stay warm, while pacing yourself just to keep going. Thankfully, I was not alone on this quest of toughness as my friends Chelsea, Brad, and Lauren joined the fun.

There were several points throughout this day where there were "traffic jams", as I liked to call them. People would get to an obstacle or to a point where they didn't know what to do, so people stopped and waited or made up their own "route" to go. Our specific Tough Mudder was in Maysville, KY and the hills were steep as ever. After many muddy people walked the hilly paths up and down, the paths lost all traction and simply became muddy slides. People started going off path to avoid these muddy trails, and I'll admit I did this for a time. After awhile, I got frustrated with it and said four iconic words that stay with me to this day -- "I paid for this." Those words were my motivation. Those words were my driving force. Those words became my catch phrase throughout the day. I clung to them as if they were my warm blanket. I sipped on them as if a hot cup of coffee.

I took the hardest roads and faced every demon on that course from there on out. I attempted every obstacle and didn't let anything hold me back. When everyone else looked at the slip n slide that had electric wires hanging a few inches above it and said "No thanks!" I looked at that slip n slide and said "I PAID FOR THIS." and leaped with wreckless abandon. Sure, I ended up swallowing muddy water and getting shocked a few times, but I did it -- and dang did it feel good!

You see, some people will look at what I did and say "That's just an excuse to be wreckless." or "You didn't gain anything from it." and my response to those people is that life is not merely about playing it safe. Life is not about cutting corners and taking the easy way out. You get your hands dirty and you experience life. Sometimes you swallow the muddy, gritty water. Sometimes you cut your knees on the rocks in the mud. Sometimes you get shocked by lifes electrical wires. You breathe in the smoke from the fiery trials of existence. You. Live. Life.

My catch phrase is the not the same one I use in my everyday life, it is slighty different. It's different in this way. Instead of saying "I paid for this." I say "Jesus paid for this." And with those words I remember my savior who died, and gave me a real life to live. A savior who commanded "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.." (Matt 28:19)

Jesus certainly didn't tell me that life would be an easy ride to paradise. (Matt 24:9), nor did He tell me to live a sacrifice-free life (Mark 8:34-35)

He told me, through Paul, to run the race -- "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:1-3)

I don't know about you, but I have zero desire in my heart to live a life that does not have risks. I don't wan't to play it safe. I don't want easy. I want my spirit to sweat. I want to hurt so bad that it delights my soul.

We finished that obstacle course -- five hours later. I was tired. I was worn out. I slept like a baby that night - and I am so thankful that I did it without any limitations. No regrets. Left everything on that course.

Christ took the hardest road imaginable to save my weary soul, should I not do the same for His ultimate glory in my everyday life? If He can carry the cross through the mud, I must too live a life that takes me through the mud as I carry my cross. (Matthew 16:24-26)

We all have a story, and the beauty is this my friends, when you give it all you've got and keep going for His name sake -- you win. (Hebrews 6:10 - Psalm 37:27-29 - John 3:16 - Romans 8:38-39)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Starving for attention.

It's taken me a long time to come to the place where I am. A place of peace about who I am and where I am in life. For a long time I struggled with always wanting and needing some type of a friendship or relationship in my life to fill a void of lonliness. I think alot of it stems from the fact that I'm without my family here in Lexington. I see my friends being able to see their parents, siblings, and other family members at any time. Thats not something I have the privledge of being able to do. I'm lucky if I see my family three times a year. And thats not the only contributing factor in the midst of all of this that plays a role in not wanting to be alone. God created woman so that man didn't have to be alone. It's biblical that companionship and the desire for it is in fact normal. But you can't let that make who you are as a person. It absolutely cannot define who you are. If it does, then you are simply putting your future into someone elses hands. You can't solely rely on friends or significant others to make who you are. It's something I've heard time and time again. It's the sermon you hear in church and you say "Thats the guy sitting next to me with that problem... NOT ME!" but in reality you have to accept that maybe that is you.

Over the past few months I've been so content in my relationship with the Lord. The more I am alone, the more I realize that I am not alone. That doesn't mean that I don't miss my family, I don't desire lasting friendships, or that I don't want to eventually be married to a Godly woman. But I am content in the things the Lord is doing in my life. I am content sitting alone in reflective prayer and meditation with the Lord instead of always doing something with someone. I am not planning or building or surrounding myself in expectation of someone else. I am going after the things I feel the Lord has before me. I am chasing the dreams I have in my heart. I am passionate about them and I am thankful that the Lord has brought me to the place I am at. I've definitely had my downfalls and struggles along the way.. The path to wisdom is not without the bumps and bruises and the hard lessons. But overall they help us become truely wise.

In the past few months the Lord has not only taught me to be content in my relationship with Him but also in being a steward with my money. Money is the topic that Jesus talked about most in his time on earth. I really used to blow this topic off and just say "It's my hard earned money, I'll be alright with my decisions with it." but it's important in understanding that being wise with your money is wisdom in itself. I've started a rough budget each time I'm paid and so far it's worked out pretty well.

I know that the road to know Christ better is one that is never ending. I'll never "be there." I'll never "know it all." because we serve a God that is limitless and is far beyond our minds. We are always learning. We are always growing. This is a season I have grown so much, and I am going to continue one step at a time.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


You tell people you know what his idol was. You claim you know his heart better than himself.

Is it easier for you to say those things? Does it make you feel better to tell people the things that you can't even be sure of?

It's a dangerous thing to put yourself in the very seat of God.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


"If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come." C.S. Lewis

What are you waiting for? Live your life. Now.