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.