Unwanted? Perfect.

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“Unwanted”…that’s the word that stands out to me from this screenshot. That is the word that breaks me and makes me want to cry out. The unadulterated selfishness is daunting.

“Your life, your essence, your very existence…the mere thought of you is not worth me sacrificing my dreams because you are unwanted.” That’s what this comment is saying about a child…a human being.

I want answers for substandard education. I want improvements made to a broken healthcare system. I want opportunities for people to break out of their socioeconomic bindings. I want to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, shelter the homeless…but when did any of these become more important than someone’s most basic right to simply have a life in the first place?

“My college dreams are worth more than your life.” How can you put a measurable value on life? I can put a monetary value on a college education, healthcare, food, clothing, and shelter among other superficial things. But how is it even feasible for someone to place a monetary value on the life of a human being? I couldn’t even begin to care if any aborted baby ever cured aids or cancer. Why is that even an argument? The value of your life will never be determined by the remarkable things society thinks you have or have not done. There is value to be had in having a life.

“Perfect”. Not only is this total devaluation of life condoned, it’s celebrated. That’s not daunting, it’s disturbing. How can anyone think that there is anything perfect about an argument that would place going to college on a higher level than the life of a child.

I’m broken by this. It saddens me to new depths to see this screenshot circulating on social media. In the time it took me to write this short post, babies were aborted. Lives were ended…and there is nothing “perfect” about that.

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Midweek Music 08.12.15

“Christ is Enough” | Hillsong Worship

We all “need” something from time to time. A new car, new clothes, certain foods, different job, more money, better social status, etc… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been guilty of “needing” something that, in actuality, I didn’t.

We play a game with God. “Give me (insert item) and I’ll do better about (insert spiritual attribute)”. We treat our relationship with Christ like a points-based reward system. I’m just curious when Christ stopped being good enough. When did his unjustified love and grace towards us stop being more than what we deserve.

It’s hard to live the words of this song. It’s hard living in a material world and not being a material girl (or guy) to reference a song with a different mindset. It’s hard but it’s worth it. Letting Christ be more than enough, let alone enough, is so worth it. Commit yourself to Christ, be encouraged by his unmitigated grace, and follow the direction toward which he is leading you. Let Christ be enough.


I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Midweek Music, feel free to follow it along with the posts.

Music Monday 03.02.15

“My Lighthouse” Rend Collective

There’s something special to me about the imagery of God as a lighthouse. I’ve had my share of shortcomings, grief, and dark times throughout my life but my faith in God has always been very important to me. He has yet to fail me.

This song, by one of my favorite worship bands, perfectly encapsulates that idea. No matter where we are, no what we are experiencing, no matter who is involved, there is a “lighthouse” that will lead us safely to shore. He doesn’t give up on us and He doesn’t fail. It might not always be the way we hope or imagine but it will always be what is best for us according to His glory.

I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Music Monday, feel free to follow it along with the posts.

Music Monday 01.26.15

“Sinking Deep” Hillsong Young and Free

Over MLK Day weekend, I took my middle school youth on a ski retreat up to Lake Junaluska in North Carolina. It’s hosted by the UMC camp and conference center up there with a guest speaker, a worship band, games, and, of course, skiing. We closed each day with a corporate worship service for the entire group. The guest band leading worship for the weekend ended the service every night with this song.

When I heard it the first night, I thought it might an original song of theirs as I had never heard it before and I consider myself reasonably knowledgable about worship music. I did a little research care of Google and Spotify and found out that it was actually written and recorded by Hillsong Young and Free a little over a year ago.

I was enamored with the song. I couldn’t stop playing it. I looped it over and over taking in every word and every note. I dwelled on the lyrics.

“Sinking deep in mercy’s seas”

“Your love so deep is washing over me”

I like the allusion that God’s grace/mercy/love is so vast, so overwhelming, that we can’t possibly contain it. It’s such a force that we can do nothing but sink deeply into it, be completely overtaken by it. It’s immovable, it’s immeasurable, it’s incredible, and it’s yours for the taking.

 

I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Music Monday, feel free to follow it along with the posts.

Reset Button

I used to love playing Pokemon on my GameBoy Color. And I’m lying when I say “used to” because a friend recently showed me how to get the game on my iPhone and now 2-3 times a week, 12 year old Trey reawakens for some mind-numbing Pokemon action. When I was really into it, I would research and use all these different strategies to get better and better (let’s all take a moment for how incredibly nerdy I was)…One of the strategies was pretty basic, right before something big or important was about to happen, you save your spot in the game, that way if it doesn’t go the way you want, you can reset by turning the game off and then on again to start over from your saved point. I used it often.

I can think of several times that being able to use this strategy in real life would have been really nice. I’ve made plenty of bad decisions in my life, who hasn’t right? Sometimes it would’ve been great to have my place right before that decision “saved” and then I could just magically go back to that exact moment if things didn’t go how I liked. It doesn’t even have to be the big moments or decisions in life either. There are some days that just don’t go the way I’d like, things I can’t even control, that would be awesome to reset.

That’s, at least, how I always feel in the moment. See, when we are facing adversity, indecision, complications, etc., it’s understandably hard not to focus on what is wrong. It’s easy to forget Romans 8:28 and forget that God is working for us while we are working for His will. As I look back at all the times I made decisions that turned out bad or those days where everything that could go wrong went wrong, I see a negative and frustrated person who wanted that reset button. Then as I take time to reflect on the aftermath of those bad decisions and terrible days, I see a person who is covered by the mercy and grace of a God who loves him enough to work for his good.

I’m glad that life doesn’t have a “reset” button. Not figuratively, I mean literally. Anyone can change their path in life at any point if they want to bad enough, I get that…I mean that I’m glad life doesn’t have a literal “reset” button or “on/off switch”. Some choices I’ve made that seemed “bad” in the moment have even led me to bigger and greater things than I ever could have possibly imagined happening in the first place. We serve a great, big, loving God. The next time you find yourself searching for that save and reset button right before you face the elite 4 (Pokemon reference), spend some time searching for the One who is always working for your good.

Sandbars and Faith

Every summer growing up, my family would vacation in Florida. We always went to Navarre Beach on Santa Rosa Island because of its beautiful and secluded beaches and because it was right in the middle of Pensacola and Destin which provided several “touristy” opportunities nearby. The best part was definitely the beaches. There were miles of virtually undisturbed powdery, sugar-white shoreline which gave us great access to the warm gulf coast waters. (Can you tell I love the Alabama/Florida gulf coast?)

I remember one of my older brother’s favorite parts was swimming out to the sandbars. They’re very common all along the gulf coast and because of Santa Rosa Island’s location, we could always count on a few being along Navarre Beach. My older brother loved them, I hated them. You see, you almost always had to swim over a trench-like part of the seabed to get to the sandbar and that terrified me. Being much younger and much smaller than my brother, I couldn’t touch and therefore had no concept of what was below me…to top that off, I’d seen Jaws and was terrified of sharks.

The summer that I was 8, my brother and his friends wanted to swim out to the sandbar as they usually did. My brother asked me if I wanted to go out to the sandbar with them and I wasn’t about to have anything to do with that. My brother told me that I could “ride” on his back meaning that I could hold on and he would swim. I was still hesitant to do this but I trusted my brother.

I held onto my brother as he and his friends began to swim out. Let me tell you, at the time that felt like the longest minute of my short life. In my head, I’d made a huge mistake and there was nothing anybody could say to me in that moment that was going to calm me down. I just knew I was going to die.

I see the same thing happening in life sometimes. We are confronted with some opportunity that is scary because it’s new and different. It may even be that we’ve seen someone else venture out in a similar fashion and have a terrible experience. We hesitantly step out in faith because ultimately we trust in God but the second we hit any sort of speed bump, we lose that trust. We forget about the faith on which we leaned from the beginning and we refuse to be calmed by any scriptures, any words of affirmation.

Why? Why do we constantly question Him? Hasn’t God proved Himself to be faithful time and time again? Yet, as often as He proves Himself to us, we revert back to the the questions and complaints. It’s because of our human nature to expect failure. It seems unreasonable to expect someone to be completely and totally dependable 100% of the time. I know that I am terribly guilty of this. It’s often hard for me to give complete trust to anyone including God Himself…but I also recognize the fault in this. I recognize that I continually receive opportunities that I simply don’t deserve; I haven’t “earned” them and never could. They are simply reflections of God’s faithfulness to me.

Spoiler Alert: I didn’t die swimming to the sandbar. I made it out there with my brother and actually had a blast with him and his friends. After some time we swam back and, while I was still nervous, I felt better having experienced the swim once before. We made it to the sandbar and the shore unscathed despite my fear and lack of trust, much like how it has worked time and time again in my life with my fear and lack of trust in God. It’s not always easy to have faith but take assurance that God is looking out for you. The end result may not always be what you expected but it’s always going to work for your good and His glory and ultimately, that’s all that really matters.

D’oh!

I met with an old friend the other day over a drink to catch up and reconnect. It had been a good while since we’d seen each other and even longer since we’d actually sat down and chatted. As we caught up, he began telling me this laundry list of things currently going wrong in his life. Now before I continue let me tell you, I have been avoiding listening to other peoples problems like the plague recently. I felt like I had too many of my own problems to be able to help anyone else with theirs.

As he started telling me about what was going on, I dreaded having to sit through it (which in and of itself is a terrible mindset to have). He wasn’t saying it in a whiny or complaining way, he was just presenting himself and what he was going through in an honest and vulnerable way. As he began wrapping up his recent history, he surprised me by ending it with “but I’m not going to let those things control my life”. It’s great that he had this mentality but it surprised me because for as long as I’ve known him, he’s been a major worrier. I mean stressed out all the time kind of personality.

Both of us having gone through some recent troubles, our troubles became the main topic of our conversation. You see, I’m a split personality when it comes to worrying. There are some things about which I’m very laid back and there are some things about which I worry until I stress myself right into a panic. When it came to my divorce, my relocation, and my job change this year, I panicked. A lot. Having experienced those things and having reacted the way I did, I found myself very impressed that my friend was having such a healthy attitude towards his problems.

A couple days after meeting with him, I was having some quiet time to just pour into scripture and I landed on the 6th chapter of Matthew. Matthew 6 is a part of the sermon on the mount and is probably best known for Jesus introducing what has become known as the Lord’s prayer. In the last few verses of the chapter however (Matthew 6:25-34), Jesus talks about worry and anxiety. None of the verses stand out to me more than verse 27:

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

As I thought about my friend’s reaction to his troubles and I thought about what Christ was saying here, I had a Homer Simpson “D’oh!” moment (currently watching the “Every Simpson’s Ever” Marathon). How much more simple can it be? We all get so wrapped up in our troubles and our concerns, the big and the small, and we think that stressing over it will somehow help the situation. Not only does it not add any hours to your life as the verse above tells us but there is significant medical research which suggests that worry is awful for your heart health.

I know it’s easy to get caught up in stress. It’s easy to let worry invade our thoughts and control our reactions…but because it’s so easy, it’s important that we spend even more time thinking on the wonderful stress relief our Savior provides. I’ll be the first to tell you that as much you as try, you can’t predict the future. Things will not go the way we want them to; people will change, places will change, situations will change. In this world that seems to be ever-changing, let’s learn to appreciate a God that is never-changing; a God that doesn’t want you to worry.

Not Alone

This morning, I panicked. It hit me that I move in a month and I freaked out. I’m leaving behind the past 4 years of my life. I’m leaving security, I’m leaving friends, I’m leaving a ministry, I’m leaving people who have become like family. What if I am making a huge mistake? What if I am just running away from something truly wonderful? What if I never find what I’m looking for? What if I never find someone else? What if I never get over my ex-wife? What if…?

The thoughts swirled through my mind all morning. I fixated on them. I retreated to my escape and ran for as long as my legs could stand it. It was hot, muggy and there was no breeze. It didn’t work. I returned home and began getting ready for work. I turned on music while I got ready and sang along. It didn’t work. No matter what I did, I couldn’t shake it.

I got to my office and immersed myself in work. I longed for anything to distract me…to take my mind off all the panic and the surging pressure I was feeling on the inside of my body. I started going over details for my last tour with LPYC. It broke me. I lost it. I stopped everything I was doing and simply thought to myself “I can’t take this”. I said it aloud. “I can’t do this”. It was silent in my office for a brief moment. It was then that I heard a voice in my head say, “I know…but you don’t have to take this because I can. And remember that you’re not doing this alone.”

It’s that simple. This is undoubtedly the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’m leaving my life behind. I’m leaving what I thought was a great marriage. I’m leaving the job I thought I would have for a long time. I’m leaving what has become home. I’m leaving a planned future. I’m leaving what I thought was certainty.

What I am not leaving is God. And He isn’t leaving me. I can’t take this. I can’t do this…but this morning as I panicked, as I cried, and as I looked for every possible distraction rather than confront my emotion, I got a much needed reminder that I’m not doing this alone. And while I can’t handle this, God can. In fact, I Peter 5:7-10 directs us to not even attempt to handle our own worries and anxieties but to cast them on God.

It’s easy to get caught up in “what if’s” and it’s even easier to let the worry and bitterness from those questions control our minds. In a recent sermon series, Johnathan Pokluda said something that stuck with me, something I very much needed to hear. He said “Worrying is fear that God will get it wrong and bitterness is believing that He did.” All my thoughts this morning were based on fears that I was making a mistake. Even as I believe that I am following God’s direction for my life, I fear the uncertainty my future now holds and fear can be powerful. I won’t let the fear control me though. Don’t let it control you either. Trust in God and know that whatever comes your way, you’re not doing it alone.