From Honor to Success (And a Little Perspective)

From Honor to Success (And a Little Perspective)

I’ve heard a lot of different perspectives on success and what it takes to succeed. Some measure it with money or fame or happiness; family, specific belongings or health.  I would say it’s not one or none of these. I look at success as always moving forward. That includes losses and wins and has nothing to do with quitting. Many of you probably agree with this.  Something I’ve found as a key to success in living our lives successfully is honoring others.

Google defines honor in verb form as to “regard with great respect.”

In my interactions with people and in my observation of myself, honor is something that seems to be under rated, whether it be social media, job resumes, sports, and so many different places, including our day to day conversations. Everything usually revolves around seeking honor for ourselves. I know that when I see someone seeking attention and praise from people, it does the opposite then what they’re looking for. On the flip side, seeing someone lift up and point out the good in someone else, I not only see the one being honored in a better light, but I see the person honoring in a more positive manner.

Some people say that you have to show yourself off (especially in a job atmosphere) so that they will see how good you are. I struggle with this myself. No one likes to be overlooked, but I like to look at it this way; if we try to exalt ourselves to achieve some sort of promotion or status or raise, we might very well receive it.  I would question, if that were to happen to you, would you be ready for it? I had been looking for some big promotion in the past, but at one point I saw that at the right time, if I would honor others and honor my boss at the time, God would honor me when I was in a place that I would be ready to accept the responsibility.  That has continued to carry over into my every day. I don’t always carry it out, although I always try to bring it into every aspect of life, whether it be in my family, my job, my church, or somewhere I’m volunteering.

The amazing part about having a mindset to honor others is having no other expectations to receive any honor.  The only failure that can occur is if you aren’t putting everything you can into whatever you’re doing. You then end up blaming someone in order to elevate yourself; Or, instead of honoring another person, you honor yourself or even dishonor the other person.

One positive to this mindset and attitude is that we end up acquiring a more grateful attitude when we see all the amazing things other people do and not look for the bad in them. We also begin to find satisfaction in other people’s successes instead of solely on our own success. There are so many other ways this leads to more joy and fulfillment, but another super cool bonus is that as your heart changes, others will begin to honor you. I would love to live in a place where people are all honoring one another. I heard Andy Byrd (an amazing communicator and friend of God) talk about what it would look like if churches started promoting other churches and praying for their success instead of being so closed minded and selfishly motivated. It makes me think of a scripture from Romans 12:10 where Paul encourages the people to “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

Success is something we all want, whether we strive for it with everything we’ve got, have given up on it due to fear, or float somewhere in-between.  However, what is the price of success?  Did you really succeed if your success stands on the corps of every person you stole honor from, slandered, or overlooked on the way there?  I would rather stand in a valley with a view of all those who have gone ahead of me, fed by the encouragement and integrity of others and me.

 

Inspiration Re-Evaluated: A Writing When Nothing feels Right

Inspiration Re-Evaluated: A Writing When Nothing feels Right

“From those times does inspiration turn from stress and anxiety, to hope and strategy.”

I have not written in a while, but it’s not strictly because of being too busy or not knowing what to write about, or taking an intentional break or any other excuse. My issue has been that my mind is a minefield of emotions, and nothing feels right.

Some may trace it to mild depression, pent up pride, writer’s block, shame etc. I think in the back of my psyche, a little bit of each of those might exist, but I trace it mainly to the answer of this one question:

What is inspiring me? 

Say this for yourself, and take a moment before you continue reading.

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Isn’t that a crazy thing to think about? maybe you’re not as wowed by this as me, but there are so many places I find my inspiration. Personally, I love interviews, podcasts, music, sermons, videos, and listening to others opinions and passions. These places can be so beneficial, but also, can be so toxic. I find myself so “inspired” I don’t give myself time to think. Even more scary, I sometimes don’t give myself  time to pray and talk to the original inspiration and creator of life itself.

One way the “mind clutter” (if you will) has affected me is that I find myself in one moment, yet thinking of the next thing or the thing from last week. I see that I am present physically, responding to people, but not fully engaging in what they’re bringing to the table at that moment.

Another contribution that is made by the clutter is apathy toward situations or people. The apathy seems to come from an overstimulation of information mixed with busyness that causes people to become statistics, and hopelessness to brew when we see all the problems and how much time it takes to reach a solution. I’ve found this to lead to anxiety that can cause a shut down, and sudden urge to watch Impractical Jokers and eat ice cream (but maybe that’s just me). But practically, it makes confrontation a chore.

The last negative I’m going to share to air out just a little more of my dirty laundry to the world, is this overstimulation of information, especial from social media, as well as retreating to a vice, can cause some real loneliness. This might sound counterintuitive, but too much absorption most times, leaves us empty. I’ve felt this in many respects. I personally am blessed with some really good friends that won’t let me have a day without a phone call from one of them. What’s more important than having the coolest friends in the world, (something i definitely don’t have, because they’re all super weird, and way more awesome and loyal then they are hip) or being with the love of your life, (something I’m so ready for, yet definitely not rushing) or having everyone like you (something I’ve given up trying to achieve, yet something I wish was achievable without compromising one’s convictions) or having something to do or think about without fear of boredom, is sitting down with Jesus, (don’t tune out please) and talking with the one who created you the way you are for a purpose bigger than yourself. He isn’t judging you right now for who you are or what you’ve done. Right now, he’s longing for your attention in a world full of distractions. Some of us even get distracted by pastors talking about God or by talking all about the deepest parts of what we know about God during the times we need to just spend with him.

From those times does inspiration turn from stress and anxiety, to hope and strategy. God created you for relationship, and he created you for impact. When we “waist” a certain amount of time with the one that loves us fully, we are able to hear his heart for the hurting and outcasts and the people we wish didn’t have to live in misery and injustice. From there, he sends us into the world with assignments of LOVE into the world that may not love us back, but won’t be able to stop the impact.

And if you don’t know Jesus, IT’S COOL! Because he fully knows you and fully loves you no matter what your knowledge is of him. Get to know him, let him know you want to give up all the junk that hasn’t satisfied you yet and even the stull that felt satisfying in a moment, but did not sustain you, for him. Tell him you want to connect to his heart and his family. Ask him to show you his heart and to fill you with his spirit. In him is fullness of joy and freedom.

My life after giving my life to Jesus has been a battle, but when I tap into his strength, I can overcome and when I lean into him, in the easy and the hard times, he gives me peace and fills me with his love.

Won’t you are I put down our devices, and pick up our chins and look to Jesus, fall in love with the Bible, his physical word, and thank him for his faithfulness?

“What is inspiring me?”

Goodbye (Poem)

Goodbye (Poem)

This poem is a tribute to anyone who has lost someone they loved. This year has been full of young lives lost, as well as full lives completed. Where grief resides, may there also be peace.

Goodbye. This isn’t for you, because you’re gone. It’s for me, because I’m left here with not you, but a shell of memories, beautiful and unique. There is no thing that could make this goodbye easier, there is no thing that could bring back normality. Normal will not return, but change. Once routine comes back into play and I start to come to grips with the fact that your voice will not be there to tell me good morning or that that shirt really doesn’t compliment me; That might be the time that normal is rewritten, but not the same, come sun or come rain, life has changed.

Goodbye to the things you did in secret or at least the things you thought no one had seen. To the infection of laughter in the way only you could bring. Our laughter will not cease, but it will never be the same. The jokes you told will be infused with longing, and remembering. It will no longer be just a joke or a quote, but a cherished moment in time, internally narrated in your voice.

Oh your voice, I want to remember it. Please, God. I don’t want to say goodbye to your voice. I know I will always recognize it, if technology replays it, but I don’t want to forget the way you said my name. The way it sounded when you were sick, or laughing, or when you sang; and not just on stage, but how you sang in the shower.

Goodbye is such an intimate word, and I utter it at a time, by you, it will not be heard, and if goodbye is forever, I may not bare the pain of it, but if goodbye is truly temporal, (and between us, I fully believe it is) then I can only wait until we meet again, and the hello will be sweeter than my hello has ever been.

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.