Tyler the Son

“Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
— John 3:3

I was born on March 26, 1992, I weighed a healthy 10 lbs, and I was named Tyler Michael Morrison. I was born as a son to Wayne and Michelle Morrison, 4th of 6 kids in a family that went to church every week. I was born into a situation where the existence of a loving God was never in question. I was born into a loving environment: aunts, uncles, parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, etc. I was born a white male, with heterosexual tendencies. I was born a Seventh-day Adventist Christian. I was born with a sense of humor and a constant desire to make people happier around me. I was born a natural people person- “99% extroverted” according to Meyers-Briggs’ personality test. I was born with some natural musical and athletic abilities. I was born a completely unique individual, except for one, little, teeny-tiny detail that my birth had in common with everyone, ever:

I was born a sinner.

For I was born a sinner - yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
— Psalms 51:5

My healthy 10 lbs were already susceptible to disease, bruises, broken bones, and deep cuts. My parents loved me and showed me God’s selfless love repeatedly throughout my life and yet I still took it for granted and always wanted more from them; more love, more attention, more gifts, more ice cream, and more back massages. Going to church as a Seventh-day Adventist simply became a way for me to feel different, and even superior at times.

But I wasn’t any different/superior because I was still born a sinner, like everyone else.

When Adam sinned, sin entered the world... Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation to everyone.
— Romans 5:12,18

I knew God loved me, but I didn’t really know what that meant because the eyes I was viewing God with had a sin-reality-covered lens over them. So “God’s love” was really just the best version of my own that I projected onto Him, mostly selfless, but with a few conditions here and there that had to be met. I trampled on the privilege I was born into because it served me well, and that’s what sinners are drawn to. My sense of humor and desire to make people happy was entirely rooted in my own selfishness, because my value was entirely rooted in my ability to make people like me. No matter how many friends I’d make, I needed to make more because I was addicted to the feeling of winning a new person over (Gallup Strengths Finders would call this “WOO”; I call it my greatest sin addiction). No matter how many songs about Jesus I would sing, and no matter how humble I wanted to be about singing them, my value and pride was completely inflated with every compliment I would receive. Every sermon I’d preach, no matter how much gospel truth was in it, was choked out in my own heart because of the sinful nature that wouldn’t allow Truth and Love to grow in my life.

It sucked.

I was trying so hard to be genuine. My ultimate goal was just to be a great person! I wanted so badly to live a life worthy of the calling I felt God had put on me. Every time I’d get knocked down I would get up again, determined to be better this time. After what felt like a million times of that, I felt that this was the inevitable life of a Christian.

The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.
But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.
— Proverbs 24:16
The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.
— Romans 7:14-15

I read these texts through my human-born sin lenses, which told me- This is your reality. Hang in there, champ. It’ll be tough journey. Some sins you just can’t shake, so just keep getting up again and going back to God. The NEXT TIME He comes, He’ll deliver me from that.

But PRAISE GOD I was wrong.

I finally came to the end of myself. Despite all my best efforts, I felt I was growing farther from God and slipping deeper and deeper into sinful patterns of behavior. As I fell and got up, fell and got up, fell and got up, fell and got up…. I started to take for granted the forgiveness that God continued to show me. My remorse decreased little by little, to the point where sometimes my guilt was almost imperceptible, and God’s love was diminished to some words on a page that I could read about.

Then for a brief moment I could clearly see.

I could clearly see that, while on the outside I looked like a great person full of love and joy, on the inside I was on a dark path that would hurt those closest to me and leave me feeling empty. I could clearly see that I was on a downward hill, picking up speed to my own destruction. I could clearly see that all of my years learning about Jesus and the Bible and doing “good works” never changed my heart one bit. I could clearly see that my sinful nature was the flippin’ worst… and it terrified me. I could clearly see that I was blind and I always had been.

And in that incredibly dark and suffocating blindness Jesus loved on me and gave me hope.

He reminded me of someone I had heard on a podcast talk about their own radical transformation. Their words were ringing in my head… “I WAS COMPLETELY FREE… FINALLY FREE.” Desperate for this freedom, I found his number and called him up.

That night, for the first time in my life, my heart received the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I can honestly say that ever since that night nearly 11 months ago, I’ve been a new person. Before that night, I was like Nicodemus in John chapter 3, not grasping what Jesus was getting at when He said that I had to be “born again”. In fact, I thought I had already done that! I would claim to be born again as a Christian, and yet I still identified with all of the things in the first paragraph of this post. But that’s not how the gospel works. You are one or the other. I’m either a sinner or I’m a Son, not both. Which side I identify with reveals what I believe about Jesus.

Did you receive the Spirit by keeping the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed what you heard about Jesus Christ.
— Galatians 3:2 (NLT)

In that moment Jesus restored my sight. I was born again.

In that moment, first-paragraph Tyler ceased to exist. In that moment, Tyler the Sinner died, and Tyler the Son came alive. In that moment the power of Holy Spirit made its home in my heart, and I’m never kicking it out. In that moment, I received and believed the power of these verses:

Have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
— Romans 6:3-4
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.
— Galatians 2:20
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
— Romans 8:1-2, 9-11

Now, Romans 7 doesn’t define my reality like it did before, because Paul was writing in Romans 7 to those who haven’t been born again. Nope, now I am defined by Romans 8 (go read Romans 6-8 straight through a few times if you want a Biblical breakdown of the experience I’m describing here). And as I lived step by step in this new Spirit-led reality of God’s love towards me, one by one the chains of sin and death fell off (and scenes like this one make me legitimately cry tears of joy as I relate to the genie in Disney’s “Aladdin”).

Now, I might have the same body, but I’m a new person.

If you haven’t spent much time with me over the past year you probably only know the old Tyler - Tyler the Sinner as I call him. Honestly, most people who have spent time with me over the last year probably don’t notice much of a difference either, which is why I haven’t been in a hurry to share this story. I don’t need to use words to convince anyone that I’m different, because I know that I am and as a result of what I know Jesus has done in my life, time will reveal the Truth of what I’m sharing with you now.

So I don’t identify with what I used to, because I am not who I used to be.

I don’t identify with what personality tests say I am. I don’t identify with what I do, what I’ve done, or what I will do. I don’t identify as an extrovert, or heterosexual, or Adventist, or musician, or athlete, or even as a broken down, tarnished and damaged sinner. Here’s why:

[Now I have] put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
— Colossians 3:10-11

Now I identify solely with who JESUS IS, believing what He has done and what He says about me.

My parents did a good job parenting me up to this point but now my Father isn’t in Brighton, Colorado - He’s in Heaven. Personality tests told me I needed people around to have energy, but now I love my alone time because in it I hear my Father speak loudest, rejuvenating my strength. Fear is gone. Selfishness and pride are gone. Insecurities are gone. Jealousy and anxiety are gone. If Jesus says that He lives in me and we share the same Spirit, then the Fruits of that Spirit are what define me, not my past, my heritage, my sins, or my personality tests. To those who are looking at me from the outside, judging what I do or how I look, maybe this could be disputed, but I don’t care what they think. I care what God thinks, and like we learned in the story of King David, God doesn’t look at the outside - He looks at the heart. My heart used to be dirty, unable to do what is right and loving to do what was wrong, but hating the guilt that would follow. This is why I needed to be born again, so the Spirit could give me a NEW HEART. So now when God looks past the surface of what y’all see in the flesh, He sees that my heart is CLEAN because of my faith in Jesus Christ.

I am Tyler the Son, and I honestly couldn’t be happier about it.

morrisonwedding_mephotography_gettingready-122.jpg

Old heart to new heart, sinner to son, blind but now I see. Everything I’ve written before, preached before, sung about before - was through the old lens. But this blog is going to be a landing place for how I view everything now through the new lens: myself, God, others, the world, religion, politics, relationships, the Bible, everything.