Thursday, May 28, 2015


Everyday students from my youth group would walk into their schools and drop to their knees and pray out loud for their school, their teachers, their friends and their enemies. Have you dropped to your knees lately? - Sam Bhatt

That question has been plaguing my mind often these past few months, and it feels like even more so these last couple of weeks. This notion of prayer, daily, constant prayer, that can radically change your life and bring about results you never dreamed of. This has been something that has been causing some inner struggle for me. 

I am a control freak and a fixer. Any guy who reads this will probably be able to relate to that statement in some way. It isn't that I have to micromanage my life or the lives of those around me, but I don't like to feel, well, out of control. I like to keep myself, my life, my family safe and secure. I like security (I was in that business for years after all) and comfort and consistency. Change is hard. Trust is hard. If there is a problem I like to fix it. I don't like leaving projects incomplete, conversations unfinished, problems unsolved, or wrongs not righted. It is who I am as a guy. I like to have my life just so, I like to protect those I love, heal their hurts, provide for them, and give them what they need.

But recently I have been confronted with just how out of control I am. I have no power, no control, no authority. I have been wrestling long and hard with failures I have committed, wrongs I have done, not having enough financial stability to offer peace, fear of the future and the unknown, questioning different medical issues (no I am not dying). I have been clutching onto my own power, my own will, my own safety, my own comfort. I have been refusing to trust God. And I know I have written about faith and trust before but I am finding now just how much my heart is grieved by the fact I don't go to God with my troubles and pains. Instead I convince myself that I, a sinful and fallen human being, can radically alter my own life and remove the pain, hurt, doubt, and fear all on my own.

I have been attempting to do this for years and to be quite honest with sucks! I can't put it any other way. Trying again and again and again to maintain a life of comfort, to meet everyone's needs, to provide beyond my means, to go at it alone, to fix everyone's problems, to do it my way. I have and continue to be that guy. That guy who follows Jesus but is scared to death of what giving everything to Him looks like.  I am terrified of saying, "God here is my family, God here are my finances, God here are my medical bills, God here are my fears, God here is the control. God here is my life."

Because what if He doesn't answer how I want? What if His fixing of the problem isn't the same as mine? What if God says no? This terrifies me so much. It scares me to the point I wake up at night. I wonder and worry about circumstances I cannot control because of just that. I have no control and that scares me.

But I believe God is working on my heart and saying "my child don't you know I only want the best for you?" God's Word says that He knows me. He knew me in my mother's womb. He knows the exact number of hairs on my head. God knows my prayers even when I don't. He knows me better than I know myself. He leads me beside still waters, He comforts me, He protects me, He is always anointing me with His goodness and love. See Scripture makes it clear that God is the God of all comfort, goodness, hope, and peace, and that He can do more than we could ever ask or imagine. God isn't a God who stands in the shadows hoping to act when we refuse to give up control, our God is one who is constantly acting and orchestrating our lives even when we don't see it. But when we give up control, when we let fear go, when we take a step of faith, God is there to say "my child come to me, my burden is light and I have this. I will and always have taken care of you. Put all your worries and doubts on me. I love you my child and I will always be your loving, caring, and sustaining Father."

So yes, while doubt, fear, worry, and control plague my life on a daily basis, even louder rings this truth: My God, my Dad, is in control. I don't need to worry or fear, God will handle it. When I am overwhelmed by a cloud of doubt or anxiety, when I cannot see the light at the end of this dark valley, when I fear the unknown, when life becomes too much to bear, God, my God, is in complete control.

I can't say this is easy. I can't say that I like this feeling but it is something I am learning to embrace. And each day I am making it a habit to hit my knees on the floor as I cry out to God. I cry out and declare my lack of control, I lay out my fears and insecurities, I beg for guidance, and I ask for strength to rely upon His sovereignty and all-encompassing love. I truly believe many of us struggle with this, and I would plead with you to hit your knees as well. Go before your Father each day and ask for the strength we don't have, the guidance we need, the faith we should have, and a desire to cede control each and every day. It is truly in the lack of control that we can rest easy and know that control isn't ours but instead the Creator of the universe is in control of everything. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

A life worth living: A look at how Christians do and should respond to others

Well it has been a while since I have last written, and for those of you who actually read this please accept my apologies. Life has been increasingly busy and hasn't allotted much time for me to actually sit down and write. With that being said, it doesn't mean I haven't had thoughts and topics come to mind that I want to write about, in fact it is the contrary that is true. I have been overwhelmed with topics and ideas, and if you were to look at my phone you would find multiple notes that are the beginnings of many posts that have not come to fruition. So I have decided to tackle a topic that may be off-putting to some but please read through the entire post and then respond to it. I mean why wouldn't I tackle a controversial topic after not having written in months?

Over the past few months, I have been really convicted about how we (yes I am including myself here) as Christians respond to and with contemporary culture. I have been blown away by some of the recent articles put out by "Christians" lambasting Kylie Jenner and claiming she is a dismal excuse for young ladies to follow while the same article glories Sadie Robertson for her lofty moralism and beautiful standards on being a perfectly modest Christian woman. Or what about how Christians have taken to mocking Bruce Jenner over his transitioning from a man to a woman? How about how Christians have become so opposed to homosexual marriage (read some of the comments)? How about how Christians openly attack other Christians like Josh Duggar when a sin has been committed (and no I am not excusing what he did, but calling us to look at our responses)? Oh and take a look at what people are saying on his siblings social feeds and how they have attacked them for his actions. Or better yet how about how Christians openly decry anything they feel harms their integrity and beliefs? Did Paul not tell us to prepare for persecution? Didn't Jesus say it will come? But his response was never to vilify those who do the persecuting but rather the pray for them and bless them! How have we come to this? Why has this mentality taken hold of us?

What this comes down to is that we as Christians are so judgmental that we have now become idolaters of those we hold to be "holier than thou". Where did we go wrong? Is it only a few bloggers who write viral sensations that become instant hits and a rallying cry for Christians? Is it only the few Christians that have become the vocal voice for our faith? And the answer is a resounding no! We are all guilty of this. We as Christians who decry the holier than thou mentality, the Christians who praise a God of grace and forgiveness, we as Christians who believe no sin to be too great for the love of God, we as Christians who stand condemned just as everyone else in this world but are justified by grace alone, we are the ones who have taken a moralistic stance that idolizes"great" people and bestows on them some sort of odd hero worship, but in the same breath demonize those who stand contrary to them.

Please understand that I use the pluralistic form here because I myself am just as guilty if not the greatest idolater among us. I have openly mocked different celebrities, I have placed great men of God on pedestals and revered their teachings but not God's Word, I have judged others before they could even utter a word, I have placed myself in a better light than I deserve, all because I believe I know better. All because I am a Christian. I use my salvation as a crutch, instead of living out the lifestyle Christ has called me to! I have laid down my cross and instead picked up an effigy of judgmental and critical theology because I have become just like the Pharisees of the Old and New Testaments.

How dare we do that? How dare we hold the world to the standards we hold ourselves to? How dare we judge when we are deserving of the same judgment the world itself is? Have we forgotten the wretches that we are? Have we forgotten how far God has brought us? Have we become blinded to the fact that without the shed blood of Jesus Christ we would be hell-bound ourselves and deserving of the same death that Adam bestowed upon us?

We as Christians have done our faith, our God, a disservice. Please hear me out: I am not lambasting Sadie, I am not saying don't be modest, and I am not saying to be of the world. I am saying we as Christians should be worshiping the Creator not the created. We shouldn't idolize a young woman because she is following Jesus. Rather we should also be following Jesus in a similar manner and giving Him the praise, the glory, the honor, the worship, and the respect He and He alone is due.

I know this is a harsh critique and many would run and say "we are not worshiping Sadie nor are we hurtful in how we critique" but the truth is we are! Every time we decide to take up a "cross" to preserve our religion we end up hurting others, ostracizing the world, and turning people off to the bride of Christ. I am not saying that we should let go of our theology, our doctrine, our beliefs, because what would we be then? I am saying that we as Christians need to do a better job at loving others. We need to do a better job at encouraging and uplifting people. Imagine if instead of throwing hurtful critiques around about celebrities we instead prayed for them and sent them letters expressing how beautiful they are, and how God loves them? Imagine for a moment that instead of saying, "I won't bake you a cake because I don't support gay marriage," we instead said, "I am going to bake this cake for you and pray that you come to know who Jesus is and that you experience His radical love for you." Imagine if you would a world where Christians didn't judge others based on their political parties, their lifestyles, their manner of dress, or their sins, but instead loved and served the world just a Jesus Christ did. What would happen? Maybe, just maybe we would see revival. Maybe, just maybe God's name would no longer be a profane term but instead be honored. Maybe, just maybe the church would once again become a safe place, a place of love and refuge and restoration.

We as Christians need to be very mindful of what we say, how we act, and how we treat others. Any time we glorify or vilify others it reflects on who we serve and claim to follow. Imagine how our critical thoughts, actions, comments, writings, and responses reflect Jesus, and maybe look to change that. I am not saying we need to excuse the sins and hurtful actions of others, but we are called to love, forgive, and let God be the judge. We cannot look at someone and dictate what is in their heart because we are not God and all of us are still works in progress. Christ works in peoples' lives in radical and supernatural ways and people can decide to follow Jesus on their death bed like the thief on the cross, or by an amazing encounter with God like Paul had on the road to Damascus. We as Christ followers need to be living, leading, and declaring Christ in all aspects of our lives. My hope and prayer is that we can be better imitators of Christ by growing in Him and maturing in our walks daily by seeking to be like Him.