If God Said It: Faith or Wishful Thinking

If God Said It: Faith or Wishful Thinking

Since I have grown up in a charismatic, Pentecostal community, “words from the Lord” are often claimed or spoken in public settings as well as experienced in personal prayer times. I won’t pretend to know any statistic on what percentage are formed from wishful thinking or construed by personal benefit or belief and how many are straight words from out creator to a human being, but I do believe both do occur at a higher rate then anyone understands. I’ve personally had many instances where I thought I heard from God, but I had twisted it into an idea that was totally different from what I initially heard.

Clarification: Some people hear the audible voice of the Lord, but any instance I’m talking about that has happened in my life so far has been either something I felt, more than just a thought in my head, but something I literally felt within myself like a thought, but stronger and so much more true; or something I thought to do that was far out of normal, yet I couldn’t help but know I needed to do it. Later I realized it would have either encourage them, or physically and/or spiritually help them out in a desperate time.

On the flip side of things, I’ve also listened to the Word for the Lord, acted on it, and literally have seen miracles. Some times though, there are things that apply to us on a longer-term scale. All that other stuff leads to influence there times.

When we don’t see results or evidence right away, how do we react?

This question isn’t easy. I’ve had things spoken over me plenty of times from people and felt things very strongly on occasions as well. Some of these things seemed off the wall and some seemed like they cut me to the core when I heard them but how should I react?

I’m going to tell you anything partaking to my advice on these things and pretty much all my blog post are started with at least a simple prayer for the Lord to teach me through his Holy Spirit on these topics. This next bit of advice is both from personal experience and from Jesus, so pray before and after taking advice from humans and know your Bible. It is quite clear on lots of things. So that’s basically my first point on how to react. Stay in constant contact with God and as you get to know him, you’ll get to know his character. So read your Bible while you spend time with him, pray and sing while you spend time, write when you spend time. Always remember, Jesus is just as relatable as your closest friend.

Also, If it lines up with the Bible and it sounds too big or out of your league or something you would love to do, but you can’t even imagine yourself there, take steps toward you goals. Set yourself up for success and see where God takes you and don’t be afraid to take risks. This might sound like a business model, but it’s so much more grand then that. This includes radically serving Jesus with things that don’t even make sense to normal standards. You can’t out give God, but there is one thing that I have to say that is the most freeing.

Be ok with whatever God has for you. Whatever you think you want at this point is only a part or the shadow of what God wants to give to you. When we take a Word we receive, check it out with the character of God through the Bible and prayer, and start moving toward some of these goals, we will find ourselves in tough times. How do you treat that moment? Do you say, that’s awesome! If that is from the Lord, I want it, and if not, I don’t.

What am I doing now? Waiting, learning other unrelated lessons, learning to love Jesus and praying that if the words spoken were from the Lord, that I would stay true to my God and fulfill them, not out of obligation, but love.

Can we always know for sure? All I can say is sometimes, we wait and see, and in Christ, may all Glory go to him!

Our Birthday: Twin-ship

Our Birthday: Twin-ship

“Do you like being a twin?”

This is one of my most frequently asked questions. I don’t dislike it, as much as I used to. My answer had always previously been something along the lines of, “I’ve always been a twin, but it’s cool I guess…” with fake laughter to follow, attempting to break the awkward silence. Today being my birthday, I get this question about being a twin: “do you like sharing your birthday or not really?” My response was always similar to the answer of the other question. But what are people wondering this for? Usually I would guess because it’s something different; something they either dreamed of or thanked God they did not have; something they’ve always wondered what it would be like.

To me, being a twin is an extra title I often don’t think about. Not because Stephen isn’t awesome or that we aren’t close, but because I identify myself as an individual, not a multiple, and I think this is a healthy thing that I hadn’t always done. I’ve learned to let go of a lot of insecurities through my early adult years (that I am still going through and growing through, at 22.) This was also installed in us at a young age to be ourselves and that it is good and ok to be unique.

The ironic part is as we grow older and separate into much different atmospheres and work places, we seem to be growing a lot more alike. We are both pursuing much different things, but through the same looking glass of Jesus. Our differences compliment the others strengths and our weaknesses keep us humble, yet fully complete. It has been an amazingly diverse and evolving relationship through the years, but has never been healthier since we have both for real taken our human efforts and focused them to Jesus, then others, and lastly ourselves.

Sharing life with Stephen is a blessing I will always cherish and will always be thankful to the Lord for because he’s helped challenge, love, lift up, and walk beside me in this journey of becoming the man I am today. He’s special to me. We evolved from fetal humans to full grown 22 year olds together, never too far from each other, and though we won’t always live under the same roof or possibly even the same country forever, nothing can separate the bond of twin-ship.

Ps. some honorable mentions of twin questions:

Q: Is twin telepathy a real thing?

A: Kinda, but not at all.

Q: Who is older?

A: No comment ( or he might have been born first, but I was conceived first)

Q: Are you identical?

A: No, we are our own eggs. We just happen to look similar.

Q: Who’s the favorite?

A: tbd

longlasting Longing

longlasting Longing

Full of that heart pulling, gut dropping ache. Hear again, there again ache. Longing for more then a day, lasting what feels like eternity. Simultaneously, my mind turns inside out, up, over and down, as my longings and passions seem to drown and be pushed down by circumstances that surround, but the business and yawning can’t drown out the pounding in my chest for clarity; but not the kind that I know every step and outcome that surrounds each moment of my life or some magical treasure map of what step is the right one and what one leads to sorrow. I want the clarity of mind to know my longings are not in vain. I want to be so close to my maker that my confidence is in his words, and can proudly bare a seal with his name.

The late king of Israel wrote famously that the Lord would give me the desires of my hear, but less famous are the preceding words. Trust in the Lord and delight yourself in the LORD, but I often find my trust in my limitations and my delight in places of danger. My longings are pulled and my trust is invested, so my longings are tested. Is the heart with brown eyes to be a part of my heart in time, or is my romantic mind leading me toward wasted time and a fools surprise. Are the pursuit of hobbies and passions leading me towards success, aka happiness and fulfillment through those I bless, or am I spreading myself thin, to where my joy will be lost in the business and different directions, taking a right hook from hope in the chin.

Each outcome is followed by something new, and my longings have been long on brew. These longtime longings will take time to go through, but what is there to do but through all my pride in the air, take on a life of service, always in repair, and learn from each desire that wells up and never giving them up without understanding what’s up. I will wrestle with my heart, hand it over and over to, not just my Lord, but also my savior and listen closer. Am I longing for more then ideas that looks good on paper? Time will testify the faith big and small and the true integrity in my heart.

 

Graduation: That Teacher Liked Me?

Graduation: That Teacher Liked Me?

Being graduation season, it makes me think of some of the student teacher relationships I had in high school. I returned to my school this year to partake in the graduation of a student from The Oak, our youth group. Seeing teachers is always one of the cool things, because they’re still in the same sort of season of life for the most part, while I’ve been in the transitioning years into life, but then you see those certain teachers. You might not all relate to this, but I was a handful for a lot of teachers. Some of them still look at me like, “PLEASE don’t come over here” and I don’t blame them one bit for how I was as a freshman. What surprising to me is the teachers that I think should be doing that that are the most encouraging and positive about their high school experience with me. One teacher this year, one teacher said to my mom something along the lines of, You’ve done really well at raising these two boys (my twin and I). they’re really good boys.

I thought about this thing that most teachers, or at least all of the good ones, are there because they love students and want to see them succeed. As kids, we might be a pain in their classes or just goofy or whatever we might have been that we wish we hadn’t been like, but those teachers weren’t looking for the worst in us! They saw through our immaturity and saw into our potential. What an amazing thing.

My thoughts never just are content with one revelation, but are always looking for parallels and then people have excellent qualities I admire, I never want to just leave      a moment, saying, “that’s a really awesome quality” but I’m wanting to see how I can attain that quality. 

So I was brought to this thought about our Creator: sometimes, I feel super bummed when I make mistakes, especially concerning things that I know contradict the character of God and things that go agents what I know satisfies and agents my own dreams, but if God really is good and is for us, then he’s doing just what those teachers have done, but with even more integrity, love and perfection. He sees past our immaturity in him and he sees into not just our potential, but what he’s created us for! He knows and wants us to be in full realization and relationship with him, but he doesn’t look at us according to right now. He looks at our life, from before conception to eternity, and he loves us.

This really encourages me in two ways, to seek him and to separate myself from anything that gets in-between him and me. It also motivates me to try my best, if it’s in my family, my work, my church, my school or any of the in-betweens, to not first judge, then try and be positive in hopes of making up lost ground, but to change my focus toward having eyes like some of my high school teachers, and eyes like Jesus, who didn’t accept compromise, but saw into who they are becoming or have the qualities of becoming, if people would only recognize them and encourage them in love!

See through the problems into the potential.

 

The Unknown: The Safest Place to Be

The Unknown: The Safest Place to Be

Picture this: you, your biggest dream in life. Your most perfect, comfortable, safe and fun version of life. STOP! Don’t keep reading until you’ve thought this through. OK, now I’ll fill you in on mine so we can track together:

Me, a beautiful, Godly wife, a few children at some point, hopefully at least one being adopted. For my job/ministry, I would be an entrepreneur, helping businesses get started with a foundation of Christ to impact communities with honesty and generosity. I would also own a music venue, and possibly also a barber shop. I would have good teams and managers and live in community and sharing my house with anyone who needs to use it for events, quick stay, rehab, or whatever thing is most needed at this moment.

So, now maybe mine is simpler or more specific then yours, but what I’m getting at is we all have dreams and plans, but something else that might seem all the more present in our lives then our dreams are surprises that devastate us. We’ve all had either family or pets pass away out of nowhere, disease come in to our own or a loved one’s body, lost jobs, friends, or significant others. We’ve found ourself free from a struggle, To have it come back with a vengeance, be it addiction or dependence. If one or all of these things have happened to you or something just as devastating, you know it always comes at a time where it catches you off guard and you are forced to deal with it.

I was talking to a good friend, named Steve today and he was telling me about the ups and downs in his life, through high points of plenty to his wife getting cancer, where his faith and finances had been and still are being tested, years after the treatment and healing from the Lord. Also, I watching a production of the Broadway musical, Civil War performed by the Servant Stage Company in Lancaster and there was so much death, so much sadness, and brokenness and young love separated by war and just ounces of lead. From it came resulting freedom for some, changes in struggles for others, and tears that could possibly fill the hundreds of thousands of graves dug once the war had ended. (shameless plug, this company  is amazing, performing professional caliber theatre at the price of “pay as you will”. Google them and check out a show next Sunday or at a future show!)

All of these circumstances and yours, the unexpected that came at times that life couldn’t have gotten any better or couldn’t have gotten any worse, there was that moment:

That moment, where you can’t tall if you’re dreaming or awake. That moment might be filled with silence, just trying to process if it’s real life, and sometimes weeping, because there’s pain or loss, or confusion, and you don’t even know how to process what has happened yet.

This is the most critical moment, because it brings you to the edge of a cliff with a blazing fire to your back. You must jump into the fog, the unknown. What do you do? Who can you turn to?  Put yourself into this picture, label your cliff and your fire and last of all, where is your hope?

I’ve often tried to put my hope in people, medicine, myself, lust, and different habits or addictions, but each time, I found myself jumping toward them, hoping they would catch me. spoiler alert, they never lasted, but acted as a false security, like a net with a hole and the strings loosely tied together, but not mended to take my weight.

The one who caught me every time, even if I wasn’t looking for him to, is Jesus Christ. If you don’t know him more than just his name, it sounds crazy, but I’m sure he’s caught you plenty of times and didn’t even mention it. When we’re not relying on him for our strength, he might allow a couple bumps and bruises, but he cares for us.

The thing is, though, I don’t want to have to go through any more pain then necessary, naturally. The best way I’ve found, and this is from personal experience and several hundreds of others experiences I’ve personally heard first hand accounts from, that the best option to take at the edge of this cliff, is to enter the unknown, with confidence of the goodness of God. Engulfing oneself in prayer and seeking a deeper, personal relationship with Jesus and leaving all anxiety and fear at the edge of the cliff to be burned up, because no amount of worry will add a single day to your life.

The unknown is the safest place to be because it brings us to two options: jump in fear, or jump in faith.

How will you jump?

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:31-34

Exposure: First Performances

Exposure: First Performances

Music is one of the most influential and most widely partaken in arts of history. For me, I’ve always been around and involved in music my entire life. Music is found in virtually every culture, if not every culture, and it doesn’t fail to move us humans; even the hardest of hearts.

Being in my family, I’ve had a bunch of first performances on stage. from silly skits at my grandparents house, performing fan favorites and classics like The Road Kill Cooking Show and plenty of others, to Sight and Sound Theater, where my first show ever, my wig fell off in front of the entire audience of roughly 2,000 people. I’ve been in school musicals and National Fine Arts (a church competition) to just performing at my church in various ways. There are definitely stories to tell, but this one felt different.

I started writing poetry and songs in my junior year in high school, and I had shared my music and poems with others before, but I got to share an original of mine and accompanied my brother, Stephen on a cover at a girl from our youth group’s event to raise money for her missions trip, and I had this overwhelming feeling: I wouldn’t mind doing this. Like, if it was my career, even just for a season, I would feel at home; because that stage felt like home. It wasn’t really because of the stage itself, or the audience in particular or the atmosphere, although it was nice, but it was sitting on my cajon drum, next to my brother, playing music.

This first performance was followed not but a few weeks later, performing a song with my friends at a dinner theatre. A song Luke Cassidy and I wrote together for our band that has, of now, only performed one song at one venue, but it also felt like home. We performed the song “Flesh and Blood” (really the only song we’ve finished so far together) that is really one of the most vulnerable songs I’ve personally written exposing my insecurities, but sharing them in my favorite art form with some of my favorite people was liberating.

Theres just something about the first time we do something, and theres something even more amazing about realizing as you’re doing it for the first time that its something you want to be involved in for the rest of your life! your thing might not be music or writing or mountain biking, or bee keeping, or anything I’m into, but it might be painting or skateboarding or swimming or math or any other sports, or counseling, or welding. Whatever it may be…

GO FOR IT!

Do it with everything in you. don’t let stats or money or time in your way. Stats might always be agents you, but theres always a percentage that succeeds. You be in that. You’ll never have enough money, so budget and work your butt off! My friend, Andrew always says, “do things you don’t want to do so you can do the things you want to do!” As for time, it is always passing by, and what I have to say for time is you don’t have time to keep talking about doing the things you love. You do have time to do them, but it priority time!

It’s always a balance, and the best way to balance out my advice in the previous paragraph is in two words: Love. Pray.

Loving,  and in turn, serving others will never bring you down, because love never fails! (Check out 1 Corinthians 13. It talks all about it.) And God is always rooting for you to succeed and through desiring him and taking pressure off yourself to make things happen, follow him as he leads you, as your pursuing your dreams. Your biggest dreams are only a fraction of the plans God has for you, if you’re following him right now or not. Through giving him control, you will enter the most thrilling times in your life filled with joy, hardships, pain and peace, but the best part is the hardships and pain will come and go, but they and peace will last through it all.

 

But I Don’t, But I Will.

I want to fall in love with you, 

But I can’t, but I will. 

I long to really know you,
More then just your name and a few things about you.

I want to give you all of me

But I don’t, but I will.
How can I make me love you? 

You first loved me, but what does that mean?

I can’t leave you, I know you’re who I want and you fill all my dreams. 
But the rain always comes on the worst of days, 

and I feel that each time I escape, 

like a dog, I’m returning to eat my vomit.

I take peace and stomp on it.
Though I find myself running in circles, I’m running none the less.

And I’m not running on a track. Each time I run forward, I make it a little farther then the last.

On each turn back, when I’m bummed I even gave in, I don’t return as far as I did in the past.

This cycle is a process I know I don’t want to live in, but with each look back forward, 
To Love, Himself, my longing grows longer and my endurance grows stronger. 
It’s a love I’ve decided I won’t give up on.

It’s a love I will keep trying for,

A love that’s been died for.
I want to fall in love with you,

But I can’t, but I will. 

I long to really know you,

More then just your name and a few things about you.

I want to give you all of me

But I don’t, but I will.