10/5/17 : 5 Second Rule

A pastor came to Union College a few years ago and said he tries to live by the "5 Second Rule". I don't remember the pastor's name or I'd give him the credit for this concept. 

I was familiar with the 5 second rule (pertaining to how long food was good after dropping it on the floor) growing up, but I'd often stretch it to 10 or 15 seconds, depending on what food it was and how much I wanted to eat it. However, this was not the 5 second rule he was referring to. 

He was referring to a rule that if you receive an impulsive thought, if you ignore it for 5 seconds without action it will go away or your brain will come up with reasons not to do it. He uses it when listening to the Holy Spirit's promptings. If he gets a thought like, Give that guy a hug, or Ask that man when his birthday is, and doesn't act on it within 5 seconds, he won't do it. So he goes for it within the first 5 seconds.

This evening as I was driving back from a movie (I saw Blade Runner and it was alright...), I looked next to me at a red light and saw an interesting young woman. She looked like there was no way she was older than me, although it was hard to tell because it was dark out and she had a hood on cinched pretty tight around her face. Her old Oldsmobile was rattling pretty loud and I'm guessing the air conditioning wasn't working quite right because she had her windows cracked open in the rain with fog forming inside. In the backseat she had 2 car seats that looked like they were for an infant and a toddler. 

For some reason, I felt the impulse to ask her if she needs help with anything. Her window was open so she would be able to hear me just fine if I rolled mine down and said something.:

But I let 5 seconds pass.

By then I came up with at least a few good excuses: 1) She would think I was weird, 2) She'd be offended as if she is some charity case and her pride would be wounded or 3) The light could turn green any second. 

Maybe I missed an opportunity to do good for someone else, maybe not. I know that by not asking out on my gut feeling, I left room for only one of those outcomes. So as I drove away I made a decision to act more impulsively when it comes to helping people. Feel free to join me!
 

9/22/17 : Anomaly

This tweet was well timed for my life tonight. 

There have been several times when God has opened doors for me. Sometimes those doors are opportunities to do something I have always wanted, dreamt of and hoped for. Sometimes they are unexpected and point in a direction I never thought of. The interesting thing, in my experience, is that I am most calm and collected when looking through a doorway into something unexpected. Surprisingly, I get filled with anxiety when God opens a door for me into something that I've been praying for. 

Currently, I find myself momentarily filled with fear looking towards the future. God seems to be opening doors and bringing people into my life that want to empower me, stretch me outside my comfort zone, and support me 100%. This is daunting because I feel the pressure of high expectations (which I recognize are mostly self-imposed), and the discomfort of stepping outside my depth. 

"Perfect love casts out all fear." 

Any anxiety, discomfort, or fear is not of God, so if I've been praying for a door to open and it does, I CANNOT let the discomfort dictate my direction. I'm reminded of one of my favorite Proverbs:

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your steps." 

I may have apprehension, fear, nervousness... but I choose today to welcome those feelings as promptings to get on my knees and lean on Jesus for strength and guidance, and to boldly walk forward through the doors that God opens until He stops opening them. 

Thanks bpolite4life. 

9/21/17 : Romans 8:11

Bible verse.jpg

This realization SHOULD be life-changing. It is truly incredible what the implications of this statement are if I actually have the faith to believe it. The same Spirit that had the power to raise Jesus from the dead also lives in me?!

But it doesn't feel like it's life-changing right now. 

I need a revival in my heart. Sometimes, I get to a point where I'm going through the motions. I don't necessarily feel like this is a bad thing, because in a way, "going through the motions" is walking by faith and not by sight for me. Right now I'm in one of those phases.

That's why this verse is great news. If that Spirit can literally raise Jesus from the dead, then it DEFINITELY has the power to bring revival in my own life. So, I'm claiming it. 

Thanks for this promise, God. I'm pumped about it. 

 

9/16/17 : I was wrong...

I remember being in college and thinking that once I graduated I was going to be on a concrete path leading to the rest of my life. I'd have direction, a firm idea of where I was going and how long until I get there, and not much flexibility to change that path. Most of you probably already know this, but...

I was wrong. 

I'm a few years out of college, and I've had the same job the whole time, but I still have no idea what God has planned for my future. I'm fairly certain I will have the same job for the next couple years as Morgan is in a grad program that lasts that long, but beyond that? Also, there seem to be so many doors that are open and worth exploring right now! I just keep praying that God will yank me into the right door and slam it shut behind me. 

My good friend Mollie Dupper says that sometimes God opens doors and shows us the light on the other side. Then when we step through He slams it shut behind us, shuts the lights off, and just whispers - Trust me!

Well that hasn't really happened to me yet, but I can tell you that I have no idea where I'm going to be, what I'm going to be doing, or what will be the focus of my energy 10 years from now. It stresses me out sometimes, but for the most part I'm at peace with it. The difference between being at peace and feeling stressed is usually whether or not I pray this prayer:

God, I trust You to lead me and guide me in life, and I'm committed to try my best to do what You have for me, TODAY. Move me when I don't wanna move myself so I don't miss opportunities to glorify You. 

Be blessed!

9/7/17 : Worship

What does it mean to worship God? 

I think Christians tend to put "worship" in a box that consists of singing songs of praise, or praying. The [practically] exclusive context in which I hear the word "worship" used, is in reference to singing. 

I just want to start talking about worship in a context that is more inclusive of what it is: a lifestyle.

Serving others, praying, singing, preaching, working, learning, breathing! Everything done to the glory of God and in acknowledgement of His presence, grace, and love is worship. 

Project Impact.jpg

Today was Project Impact at Union College, and something like 750 people gathered on front campus before going into the community to serve. I think it is my favorite call to worship that our entire campus takes part in. We literally shut down the campus and worship God through serving the community for about 5 hours in the morning. 

I'm not super satisfied though... this is an aspect of worshiping God that needs to be more prevalent in Christian churches and organizations. I firmly believe that the reason more people don't know, believe in, and worship Jesus is because all they see is some singers, preachers, and church-goers, but not enough people who are making the world a better place. 

I have never been super involved in outreach, or community service. I need to. If I'm not doing what I can, when I can, to make the little corner of the earth I live in a better place, then I'm not truly being a Christian. 

I just wanna worship. So I'm gonna. Starting tomorrow on my way to work. I'll listen to this. 

Then I'm gonna work, and I'll do my best to glorify God there! 

work work.gif

What are some other tangible ways to worship?

#hmu

PS this was done yesterday but didn't get posted.

8/25/17 : Fullness

This song has been my worship jam for the last couple weeks. 

Fullness of eternal promise
Stirring in Your sons and daughters
Earth revealing heaven’s wonders
Spirit come, Spirit come
What You spoke is now unfolding
All Your children shall behold it
Dreams awaken in this moment
Spirit come, Spirit come

Pour it out
Let Your love run over
Here and now
Let Your glory fill this house
Pour it out
Let Your love run over
Here and now
Let Your glory fill this house

Now the world awaits Your presence
And this power is within us
We will rise to be Your witness
Spirit come, Spirit come

Pour it out
Let Your love run over
Here and now
Let Your glory fill this house
Pour it out
Let Your love run over
Here and now
Let Your glory fill this house

Tongues of fire
Testifying of the Son
One desire
Spirit come, Spirit come
— Elevation Worship

8/19/17 : Racist or Ignorant?

Today I came across this photo on Facebook. 

slavery.JPG

The picture and the comments following got my wheels turning and I couldn't help but post my thoughts, which I'll post next. My post may seem off-the-wall considering the image above, but I promise that they tied in with the direction the comments went! 


I've found that the word "racist" has often turned my ears off in my past. That word would make me instantly stop trying to hear what those crying it were trying to say. After all, I considered myself the furthest thing from a racist!

However, now I stop defending myself and try harder to hear what is actually attempting to be communicated. 

There may not be overt slavery today, but what I've heard since I started listening and what I've seen since I started looking is an entire community that has been and is still being oppressed, in a myriad of ways. And I've been shocked to see how I perpetuate it through my ignorance. 

I believe a huge percentage of accused racists are actually just ignorant. They're ignorant to the oppression others endure for reasons outside their control, and they're ignorant to their own privileges they did nothing to earn. 

But until we stop trying to defend ourselves against the "racist" accusation, we'll never get the blinders off our eyes to really see what is goin on TODAY. We'll just keep perpetuating "systemic racism" through our own ignorance.


So I guess in short, I'm trying to be less defensive and more sensitive to the cries of others. I'd appreciate you holding me to that!

8/16/17 : Death Has Died

Sometimes in this world of chaos, turmoil, poverty, sickness, conflict and greed, you need something to make you feel good. There are times when I seriously feel like it's selfish to be happy because of all the crap going on in the world. What is discouraging is that it seems impossible for good to win. 

That's why I love this song. If this mug doesn't get you hyped, then... tell me what does, cuz it would probably make me lose my mind. 

Cheer up Buttercup! 

"Death has died and LOVE has won!"

Day 48: Charlottesville

The first time I wrote this I started with, "I don't know where to start" but then I wrote like 2 pages of stuff that the internet deleted. So now I kind of know where to start and finish, but I'm frustrated that I have to write it again because my feelings are more developed and less raw now. However, I'm going to try and write it all over again because it's something I believe needs to be written. 

Maybe you aren't aware of what has been going down in Charlottesville, VA lately, so I'll start with a quick summary. I think it was back in February, the city voted to take down a General Lee statue in "Lee Park" and rename it "Emancipation Park". This decision spurred the anger of many white-nationalists, in turn making Charlottesville one of the most racially tense places in America. 

This weekend people (members of the KKK, alt-right, white-nationalists etc) came in from all over the country to protest the removal of the Lee statue, for a rally called "Unite the Right". Counter-protesters have come together in much larger groups any time these racist groups have assembled to let them know that their racism and hate is not welcome in this country. As the crowds packed the streets, someone in a gray Dodge Challenger sped through the crowd, hitting several counter-protesters before slamming into two other cars. As far as I know a 32 year old woman lost her life, and over 20 others were seriously injured by the impulsive attack. 

I don't post political things on the internet because I'd rather not give someone reason to dislike me before they get to know me personally. However, I will stand up for what is right and against what is wrong. Somehow, the line between politics and the treatment of humanity has become blurred, so let me clear it up a bit in this case.

 

Hatred and violence against humanity is always wrong. Plain and simple. 

 

Yesterday morning I sat in church and listened to a great sermon. Typically, great sermons talk about God's love for humanity, and how that love will change the way we love each other. I love those sermons! But honestly, I don't remember much about the sermon, because when I got home my thoughts were much more consumed by what happened in Virginia than what I had learned in church. The more I thought about it, the more I felt like I had spent my morning learning about Jesus while these counter-protesters in Charlottesville were actually being Jesus. Let me explain:

Being a Christian means simply to be a follower of Christ. It means to walk in His footsteps. To treat others the way He would treat them. To love the unloved and defend the defenseless. It means we are to stand up for love in direct opposition to hateAs children of a God whose law is unwavering and whose love is infinitely unconditional, we are to be extensions of those virtues to a world in desperate need of them.

So as I was literally sitting down in a pew, learning about this God of love and justice, there was a multitude of people literally standing up for it in a street as if they were bowling pins as a hate-fueled sports car came barreling through their protest.  

I'm definitely not saying we should all quit going to church and replace it with any protest or social justice rally we can find. However, when there are people so blatantly mistreated in our communities and we don't stand up for them while call ourselves Christians, we are taking God's name in vain AND lying! 

Here's the deal; I fully recognize that we live in a world full of gray area, and it's difficult to know what to boldly stand against and what not to. However, what happened yesterday is easy! There are groups and organizations today who still ostracize, demonize, and marginalize other human beings based on the color of their skin. This is wrong and as Christians we shouldn't be quiet in calling it for what it is.

I don't care if their reasons are justifiable or not, if someone simply FEELS mistreated, hurt, rejected, less-than, persecuted, or simply lonely, then as Christians we should be the FIRST to treat them with kindness, to give them healing, acceptance, value, safety and companionship.

While I believe this post applies to everyone in the world, regardless of their faith, I'm looking at myself and my fellow Christians first. We don't have time to sit around and wait for it to affect us directly. If evil, hatred, and violence is in our country, it is in our community. We must overcome evil with good. We must stand up for love in the face of hate. 

Jesus set the perfect example of liberating the oppressed. We have to stop pretending like there is no opportunity to follow it. 

Day 46: Outta Gas.

God knew what He was doing when He created a day for us to just "stop". Stop working, stop trying so hard, stop striving for our own salvation, sustenance, and self-preservation. He created us with a gas tank that runs dry every 7 days, and He loves to be all we need to make it another 7.

I'm outta gas, and I'm pumped to stop at my favorite station. It feels good. :) 

Day 40: Invitations are Necessary

When I was younger, there was a rule in our house that you couldn't invite yourself over to a friends house because it was very rude. I thought I was pretty clever by telling Leif have his mom invite me over so my mom would say yes. 

I still feel like it's pretty rude to invite myself places. In fact, sometimes I even feel rude accepting invitations if I feel I was invited out of obligation. Yet, there are some people and some places that I am so comfortable, I don't always need an invitation to pop in or hang out; I'll just do it. However, I still think that's intrusive... I just do it anyways I guess, 'cuz that's how much I love those people!

So, when dealing with anyone who is polite, non-invasive, and cares enough to respect your space, if you want to spend time with them you're going to need to invite them. The invitation is necessary for quality time together.

Jesus is pretty polite, definitely non-invasive, and He will never impose Himself on anyone unless they personally invite Him. This is why I love to start off any worship set, concert, or program I do with an invitation to the Holy Spirit (basically the omni-present version of Jesus) to be present with me, and everyone else there. 

Azriel shares this sentiment with me, so here is a variation of the concert-opening medley that we did in FL. 

Invite Him in!

Day 39: "Please Forgive Me"

This song has been my literal prayer many times in the last 5 years. There have even been times where I would literally sing these words out loud because I was feeling so separated from God by my selfishness. I felt like a failure, making the same mistakes over and over, seemingly stuck in one place as a sinner. In those times I felt like the promise of being transformed from "glory to glory" was not really true for me. 

But after asking for forgiveness, I feel God pick me up a bit, and I've got the courage to keep trying. I hope its a blessing to you too!

“And if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
— 1 John 1:9

Day 30: Hump Day

On the other side of hump day, all I can say is I can't wait for Sabbath. God knew what He was doing when He created a day where we stop.

Work and grind for 6 days, but on the 7th chill. Stop worrying about finances, bills, how many students are coming to Union College, etc. Stop trying so hard to be a perfect Christian. Just let God take care of things for a change.

So, I'm gonna grind for a few more days, pay bills best I can, and try my hardest to set good, Christian habits. 

But I can't wait for Sabbath. 

 

 

 

 

I just logged on to post for today and saw this was sitting as a draft! 

Day 28: "The Wire"

Who made up these rules
Who’s the star and who’s the tool
And who’s the genius and who’s the fool
Oh who made up these rules yeah

Who wrote all of these laws
When to spit and when to applaud
What’s of the devil and what’s of God

Cause I’m so tired of walking this wire
I’m either ice or I’m fire
I’m so tired of walking this wire
I’m either ice or I’m fire
— Allen Stone

This is one of my favorite songs by my favorite artist. Growing up an American citizien and Seventh-day Adventist Christian while attending a church service every week, I remember listening to this song the first time and thinking... yeaaaahh! I AM so tired of walking this wire!

Remember in middle school, when you had that classroom that you weren't allowed to chew gum in? Why?! I loved to chew gum! And its all because of those idiots that didn't know how to locate a trash can when their Juicy Fruit lost its flavor, resigning instead to sticking it under their desks, or stomping it into the carpet. The teachers' solutions: to outlaw ALL GUM CHEWING. 

There is nothing bad about gum chewing. If there is, there's no way it outweighs the good. Yet, the rules decided to skip back a few steps to prevent even the OPTION of sticking gum under the desk. If the logical rule of "no sticking your used gum in the carpet or under the desk" is too hard to enforce, then we MUST come up with more strict rules to have enforce our own desired outcomes. It is entirely out of a desire to be in control. 

Well, that's how anything goes that grows large enough to become a man-made institution. Without getting too far into politics (church or governmental), I will just say that I think most laws and rules are put in place as a means to control a specific outcome that may or may not even be mentioned in that law/rule. Rather than leaders educating people on the benefits of behaving a certain way, they create penalties and consequences to control their behavior. 

I don't want to give examples of the rules and laws that I believe create a "wire" for me to walk. I want you to think of them for yourself. What is causing you to tip toe, and why? Can you even explain it for yourself? Better yet, what are the guidelines in your life that you try to project onto everyone else around you, whether that be in church, at school, or in your workplace? You may be creating a wire for someone else to walk. 

As a Christian, I have to remind you (and myself) that it is never our job to change other people. Our job is only to love them. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to change them. 

As a Christian, I have to remind myself (and you) that inner reformation is impossible by my own efforts. My job is only to let go of control. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to change me. 

Don't walk a wire. Don't create wires. 

A new commandment I give you: Love one another.
— John 13:33

Day 22: "The Big Sick"

So tonight, Morgan and I went on our first date (as a married couple)! I feel like it was one of my more creative, grand, romantic gestures of my life; we had dinner and watched a movie. Morgan shot down my hopes of watching Spiderman, but there was a movie showing neither of us had heard of, and after laughing through the trailer, we decided to watch The Big Sick.

The Big Sick is a story about a Pakistani comedian in Chicago that falls in love with a white, American girl, who ends up very sick and in a medically induced coma, fighting to stay alive. I'm not really interested in giving a synopsis, or becoming a movie critic of any sort, so here's why I'm actually writing about it. Also, it was a great movie, if you can get past the many F-bombs. 

Anyways, as we're watching this young man struggle through this stressful, heartbreaking experience, I couldn't help but think momentarily about how I'd feel in that situation. I quickly came to the conclusion that it would crush me. Anything happening like that to Morgan would devastate me. I don't know why I thought so deeply about this in the middle of a movie, but I did, and I realized something that I believe to be true.

Love is an emotion that magnifies all other emotions. The more I love Morgan, the more angry I am when she says something hurtful (not that that has EVER happened). The more I love Morgan, the more sad I am when she's heartbroken. The more I love Morgan, the more annoyed I am when she's annoyed. The more I love Morgan, the more I am happy when she's happy. The more I love Morgan, the more devastated I would be if anything were to happen to her. 

This is kind of morbid for sure, but it just made me think about God for a second. Surely, He could have loved no one more than His own Son. Not only that, but His love is so deep, so selfless, and so perfect, that if this theory of mine is true, then He definitely isn't always just a jolly happy character floating in the sky, much like the way kids imagine Santa in the North Pole. No, as He watches us, and loves us, deeper and deeper each day, His heart breaks more than ours ever could, His joy reaches levels we haven't experienced yet, frustrated, happy, angry, sad...

But the thought that was loudest in my mind, was that Jesus is God's perfect Son. A relationship so perfect with love that literally it destroyed death. Literally. And He had to watch His son get put to death by the very people they were trying to save. The level of heartbreak He must have experienced. Yet He didn't stop it, because that's also how much He loves us, too. 

It's late, I'm tired, probably getting sick, so I hope that made sense, and that the love of our Creator blesses you today!

Day 19: Hand-in-Hand

When talking about Christianity, it seems like the description-of and love-for WHO Jesus is should go hand in hand with conversion and a change in lifestyle as we learn to obey Him more. However, if you believe something going "hand-in-hand" means it is simple, then you're probably wrong.

Watch.

The high five has some very complicated nuances that, if missed, can make for some pretty hilarious highlight reels on YouTube. You've got to consider several key elements. 

#1 

Make eye contact BEFORE reaching out your hand to initiate "the five".

#2

Make sure you clearly have an open hand. It's not rock-paper-scissors.

#3

You must be clear on whether you're "up-high" or "down-low". Don't be Ronny Turiaf.

I'm only scratching the surface here. Anyways, my point is that even with "hand-in-hand" (high fives) there's an order to things. I know this analogy is a stretch, but its way more entertaining than just me talking about it.

Most sermons you hear fall into one of two categories: either they are all about Jesus and who He is/what He has done OR they are about you/what your life should look like as a follower of Jesus. Most people would say these go "hand-in-hand". This means you can't get one without the other, as they are equally important/interchangeable... but if you watched the videos above, you know it is just not that simple.

There absolutely has to be a clear focus on one specific part, and the rest falls together. In the high-five, I believe the key to nailing it is to lock in some good eye contact while yelling "HIGH-FIVE". That's it. 

When it comes to Jesus, the key to nailing it is to talk about Jesus' unconditional, unfailing, unchanging, all-encompassing, never-tiring, infinite, personal, indescribably selfless love, and that's it. The lifestyle change, the obedience, will undoubtedly follow. 

However, if you have the privilege to talk about Jesus to someone and your main focus is on that lifestyle change and perfect obedience, you have now set an expectation that no human being can ever maintain. You've set them up for failure. They may obey for a time. Shoot, they may obey for a LONG time. 

But it's for the wrong reasons. And it's unsustainable.

Last analogy- It's like balancing a broom on your hand. If you look at the bottom of the broomstick, where it's touching your hand, you cannot balance it very long. However, if you look at the top of the broom, way above where the point of contact is, you can balance it til your arm gets tired. Where you put your focus determines your success.

In your mind, and with your words, ALWAYS put your focus on WHO JESUS IS. Plain and simple. The rest will fall into place. 

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
— 2 Corinthians 3:!8

Day 17: The Bible Is Real.

Sometimes, the Bible makes no sense. It seems there is no logical reason why it would say what it does, and one might even come to the conclusion that some of God's Word is... arbitrary. *gasp*

I LOVE finding nuggets in the Bible that seemed arbitrary or random, and matching them with scientific discoveries! So here's one for ya. 

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
— Prov. 17:22

Turns out, laughter can actually stimulate organs, activate and relieve your stress response, soothe tension,  relieve pain, among other positive physical health benefits!

ALSO, depression legitimately makes your bones more brittle. True story. Read about it here, at this super legit website that is basically an online doctor.

Moral of the story... LAUGH A LITTLE. Get out of the dumps! Depression and boringness is killing you. 

Day 16: "If God's not dead, why do we talk about Him like He is?"

Few people can make God feel like a real person who loves and cares deeply about you, just by talking about Him. Mollie is one of those people. Literally every time I hear her talk about Jesus I feel like I know Him a little better, and that He loves me a little more. 

If you haven't heard this yet, PLEASE take 19 minutes to listen. Then subscribe to the YouTube channel, because her husband uploads videos of ALL her Jesus talks. 

What if we were intentional to live tomorrow like God is alive, and all the things we know about Him from the Bible are true? What would that look like?