Psalms Study: Intro/Week 1

About a week ago I challenged my friends on Facebook, posing the question when was the last time they actually read their Bibles? Really read it – not just looking for the supporting verse to help them win an argument with their least favorite relative. But rather, for the sake of relationship with God and learning from His Word, chapter by chapter and verse by verse. It’s something I haven’t done for a long time.

It’s so easy to find excuses and reasons why I don’t have the time to read. But I was challenged earlier in the month by a friend of mine that said, “Instead of saying we don’t have the time for something, we should say ‘that’s not really a priority for me right now.'” I was astonished at the simplicity of his statement that yet packed a powerful punch of wisdom within it. How often have we told someone we don’t have time for a certain activity, when really we just don’t want to do it? And I realized…it was true. Reading the Bible wasn’t a priority for me. I’d grown far from it and had been relying on my own strength, my own wisdom, to make it through. I’m sure you can guess how the rest of the story goes – me, by myself, is not enough. There’s something missing. Some ingredient of grace that is left desired.

That ingredient is the Sunday school answer, “Jesus.” But it’s packaged in the form of the gracious wisdom provided for all Christians within the living and active Word of God, The Bible. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

So Allie (my wife, if you’re new to the blog) and myself decided that we’d start simple. We’re going to read one Psalm each day. The chapters in Psalms are only a handful of verses long and packed with wisdom. Not to mention, David’s style of writing is so eerily similar to my own heartbeat – very up and praise-filled and then very down and heartbroken, filled with deep angst. It’s the perfect mix of daily, applicable wisdom and the soft relation of understanding that comes from listening to and empathizing with another’s laments.

Today marks the 7th day of our study, so this morning I read Psalm 7. For the next few months I’d like to attempt my hand at writing weekly and sharing what I learned from that week’s 7 chapters. Since this is the introduction, I’ll keep it simple and share my favorite verse from each chapter and what I learned from it. It’d be awesome to hear your feedback and what you’re learning from your own, personal study of Psalms if you’re joining in and following along as I know several friends and family are.

  • Psalm 1:1-2 “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lordand who meditates on his law day and night.
    • This passage really called for me to consider my own heart and whether or not I ensure that I am not in step with the wicked of this world. I think about how easy it is to fall into gossip mode or to partake in activities that are really to no one’s benefit. And instead of participating in gossip and slander, what if I were filling my heart with the Word of God and meditating on it day and night? How would I change? How much brighter would I make the lives of the others with the Light shining within me?
  • Psalm 2:11 “Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling.
    • What happened to the felt-board Jesus? He was playing with sheep and telling the children to come to him. And yet here we are told to celebrate his rule with trembling and serve the Lord with fear? Conflicting messages to hear, especially for someone that’s not versed in reading and understanding the Bible. Growing up in the church, my understanding of passages like this is that it’s a reverent fear, such as respect for the Lord. An example would be that when I consider the depravity of my sin and how I’ve avoided listening to God calling me home for so long, it can leave me lying awake at night in fear of his wrath for my sin. The good news? The New Testament hadn’t been written yet when Psalms was written. And in there, we learn that Jesus died for our sins and has blessed us with eternal life in Him if we’ll accept His gift called Grace, and I’m been writing about Embracing God’s Grace for almost a decade now.
  • Psalm 3:5, 8 “I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.
    • I think it’s interesting to consider how the Lord gives us strength each day. I’m able to take a breath right now and breathe in the sweet air because God has allowed me to. That’s amazing! My life “is but a breath” and yet I have to take so many of those individual breaths in order to stay alive. From the Lord also comes deliverance, and boy how I needed that many times this week. Deliverance from myself – my shortcomings and my own self-pity. Deliverance from the hands of the enemy and his way of twisting my perception of the world and feeding me lies that I’m not enough. Anyone else relate?
  • Psalm 4:2 “How long will you people turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?” 
    • You can sense the weariness of God’s patience. Reminds me of when Allie or myself have told Harvey “no – off!” until we are blue in the face and yet he’s still jumping on the counter and trying to lick where the food had been resting a moment ago. It’s a good question though – how long will we turn his glory into shame and how long will we love lies more than the truth? I heard it said by one of the men in my inner-circle, “How long do we want to wait until we allow God to redeem the situation?”
  • Psalm 5:9 “Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with malice. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies.
    • David is writing about his enemies here, led by the evil one, Satan. I think it’s so important that we remember just how deadly the lies of Satan are. They literally and figuratively lead to the grave. James 3 teaches about the powerful nature of our words and how they can steer the direction of our lives just as a small rudder steers a large ship. It’s important to consider the words that we allow to impact our hearts – are they lies that lead to the grave, or truth that leads to further life?
  • Psalm 6:2-3 “Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?
    • If David, “the man after God’s own heart” can feel this way, then surely it’s okay for me to feel it. And if I feel it, then I can’t be the only one. Sometimes it’s just good to read something that you can relate to. Winters bring on a dark season of depression for me. And spiritual warfare has intensified as I’ve done the hard work of breaking sin cycles in my life. Evil is angry because it’s losing its foothold in my heart and life and the more of myself I turn over to Jesus, the more authority I gain from Heaven to send the demons running back to Hell where they came from. And sometimes, we’re weary and faint and wonder, “For the Love, God! When? When will we have rest?” It’s a valid question and it’s okay to ask it.
  • Psalm 7:10 “My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart.
    • Captain America had his shield. It protected him from the bullets of opposition forces and could be used as a weapon, itself, on occasion. Having weapons in our tool-belt like Scripture memory and the Holy Spirit on our side are good, but sometimes we are going to need to defend ourselves. How awesome is it that God, Himself, is our shield?

That does it for this week’s blog! It’s far longer than the rest of the series will likely be. A solid portion of this one is the set-up introducing what I’d like to do with it. Please feel free to join us in our Psalms study. Tomorrow we will be reading Psalm 8! Also feel free to follow, comment, and share. Blessed be just one part of a much larger body. May the Lord our God bring Heaven here for us now.

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Threes

I’ve heard it said that life comes in threes. Perhaps another way you’ve heard it is that when it rains it pours. And I think there is some truth to all of those old sayings. Sometimes we will hit a season where everything is falling into place and we feel unstoppable – you get the promotion, money starts stacking up in the bank account, you lose 15 lbs from sweating it out over the summer, and your marriage is as passionate and exciting as it was when you started dating. Then, out of nowhere, the tides of life change on you. That “promotion” comes with more responsibility than you were bargaining for, medical expenses come out of nowhere and drain up your savings, and it starts to feel as if you’re just going through the motions in all of your relationships…and you gain those 15 lbs back, and then some.

The tide has very much been going in the latter direction for me lately and it’s been a rather humbling season. I came across a verse recently that I thought fit someone else’s life quite well, only to discuss it with a mentor of mine and find myself convicted mid-sentence that it also applied to me. “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly. Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.” (Proverbs 26:11-12)

“Easy there, Justin – don’t let your righteous anger convince you that you’re king of the universe because you’re right this one time.” said the Holy Spirit.

As a man, I like to fix things. I’ve never been very good with my hands in terms of fixing a broken washer or appliance. I typically call 1-800-DADDY (or Tyler, since he lives with us) and they handle those situations. But I’ve always had a knack for being a peacemaker, counselor, and encourager – and when shit hits the fan in my family and in my social circles, I usually am one of the first ones to receive a phone call or text about it. My default reaction is to attempt to manage, persuade, and ensure that my best solution for success is executed. The problem with that is that people can’t be managed and just because you’ve learned certain lessons in life already doesn’t mean they’re ready to learn them right now too.

“Everyone has to find their own way. They surrender different pieces of their lives to God at different times. When I see you and others struggling for freedom and struggling for the light, I want to come in with my shotgun and blast some holes in the roof so the light can get in. But that’s not my place. I can’t do that. But when you (and the others in your life) are able to find the key and open the door, I’ll be there with arms open wide, and so will Jesus.”

You see – you and I just weren’t designed to carry that burden all by ourselves. And as my social sphere has been going through a heavy dose of drama over the last week or two, I’ve found myself desperately wanting to fix everything, to manage the situation, and I’ve looked at my own heart and seen everything that needs fixing and I’ve tried to do it all on my own.

But the thing is, I can’t do it. Not by myself. I’ve got to let Jesus back in, and I’ve got to enlist the help of a counselor along the way. (Quick side note – Allie and I have been participating in marriage counseling over the last few months and it’s easily the best thing we’ve ever done for our relationship. There’s no shame in admitting you may need a little extra help. We’re laying the foundation for a LIFETIME together right now, and that’s hard work when you’re two strong-willed individuals with varying ideas and backgrounds. Do yourself a favor and give counseling a try. It’s worth the monetary sacrifice.)

Speaking of three – I’ve got a quick story for you that has to be shared related to financial sacrifice. We found ourselves in a place where finances weren’t going as well as we wanted them to. I had a bit of a heart-scare and Allie and I both needed a few rounds of doctor’s appointments and testing around the same time and our bank account was starting to get punished for it. Out of a fear of scarcity and a lack of faith in God to provide I found myself avoiding tithing. “I’ll tithe later, when we’re a little better off.” I said to myself and avoided discussing the situation with Allie. Well, it was coming to the end of a qualification period in my sales career and I was feeling particularly convicted as I hadn’t sold anything for a week. I needed to sell just 3 within a week and I couldn’t do it. Nothing. Zilch. I was thinking, staying at work until about 8:30 (way past when I was supposed to go home), and I realized that I wasn’t trusting God. I took myself off the Ups List, sat down, pulled out my phone and back tithed the last 3 weeks that I’d been avoiding it (a rather large sum for an already depleted account). The next day, I sold 3 cars. 1, 2, 3. I barely broke a sweat. Everything just sort of fell into place. I’d decided that morning I was just going to trust God and go with the flow and sure enough – He came through and provided for another season of privilege and increased commission.

God is good. We just have to trust him. Why do we make that so hard?

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Race Against The Battery

I was just meeting with a friend for coffee and talking with him about his pursuit of becoming a better writer. It reminded me of a time when I blogged far more regularly. I would participate in a thing called “Five Minute Friday” – where there would be a topic and you’d have five minutes of writing, without editing or worrying too much about your thoughts – you wrote about the selected topic and shared them with the world.

There’s something fun about not holding back. Scared of not measuring up to what readers may expect, I will frequently discount my voice and shy away from sharing what I have to say. So this morning it’s a race against my MacBook’s battery (because I forgot the charger and probably won’t have any free time to finish writing later). Let’s see what we can do with 12% – I mean, 11%….

Life is kind of a race against the battery – isn’t it? You wake up fully charged most of the time and some days you didn’t sleep that well – you forgot to plug yourself into the bed early enough and wake up at 50% and you’re like, “Welp – today is gonna be fun.” And then even on a normal day, by the time lunch rolls around you’re running near 50% or less, just wondering how you’re going to get through the remaining 8 hours.

As I sit here in Black Dog, that’s kind of how I feel about my life right now. Lots of variables and unknowns in life currently and lots of dreams and things being prayed for, and having pursuits of becoming healthier – exercising more and eating right – but then the subzero temperatures hit and the fridge runs out of fruits and vegetables and you find yourself digging into a greasy burger and beer at Johnny’s after work.

Conserving battery life – time-management, money management, stress management, crisis response are all a part of this wild journey that we call life. And at every turn seems to be a reminder that we need to get better at more than one of these areas. And it’s overwhelming if you let it be.

I frequently look at all the areas I need to improve in and want to curse myself out. “You should have x-amount saved for retirement, and you should have a house, and you should be 50 lbs lighter, and able to lift y-amount of pounds, and your sales should be so much better, and you should be reading the Bible every day, continuing recovery homework, and writing your book – you should be doing all of these things, every day.” It’s as if I’m looking down on myself and lecturing myself into a comatose state. “I guess this is it – I’ve failed. I’ll never make it.”

8% left…

And that’s how I feel. 8% left. Stuck in the same patterns, plugging into the same old, crappy sources for strength.

And then it hits me. God loves us so much that he’s offered us Living Water! And those that have tasted it should thirst no more! And here I am, in a “thirsty” culture that lusts and covets everything – allowing myself to be poisoned to the point of death. And my Lord and Savior is saying, “Here – come and drink! Let the children come to me.” And it’s in those moments where you’re on the floor in tears and feeling helpless and hopeless like a little child that we can truly remember what faith is, what it’s like to realize we need something, someone, some God – because we will NEVER be enough, on our own.

The self-help industry and all of it’s nooks and crannies wants you to believe that you ARE enough and that you WILL get better, and maybe you will get better. But at the end of the day, if your heart doesn’t change, you’re not going to remain changed – because you’ll always be yourself. The only one capable of changing your heart is God. And that seems to be what we all run from the most. Allowing ourselves to feel exposed and vulnerable and ready to listen to the Living God, like a child experiences when they’ve messed up and their parents are rebuking them. But not for the sake of rebuking them and making them feel awful – for the sake of their personal development and growth, that they wouldn’t grow up to become that type of person.

6% left…

What if we remembered we were offered eternal life, living water, a source of strength and substance that doesn’t know limits. Never runs out. Never needs to be recharged. What if our dreams were no longer limited by fear, resources, and other’s opinions? What if our current state didn’t have to determine our future?

What if we cashed in on God’s promises? You have a better plan for my future? Cha-Ching! Show me! You have a hope and I’m fearfully and wonderfully made? Cha-Ching! Show me! Show me, Lord – how I am desirable, beautiful, handsome, and made to do good works.

What if….

Battery is gone. Gotta go for now. Be blessed.

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What I Learned In 2017

Since 2013 I’ve been writing a summation of lessons learned over the course of the year. My wife jokingly said that people were counting on it, so whether people read it or not I suppose it’s worth writing – so humor me and her and stick around for this year’s golden-nuggets of wisdom.

First off – I should probably be writing a book because you learn so much in the first year of marriage that it’s not even funny. I’ve learned more about myself in this last year than I ever have before. Previously, it seemed to take me years to learn varying lessons of maturity but when you get married, the necessity of growing up and becoming a man accelerates. It’s an incubator for growth.

In pop-culture and even in an episode of Glee that Allie and I watched last night, it seems to be “okay” to lie in marriage. In fact, it’s often encouraged as if it were the only way around certain things. After all, “what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her” – until it does. What I’ve learned over this last year is that even lying by omission is lying. It’s been to own my mistakes, like the fact I went over budget that week rather than pretending like nothing happened. And the sooner I own up to my sin, past, shortcomings, and flaws, the sooner Allie forgives me and the sooner the Lord can work in my life to help me overcome these obstacles.

I’ve heard it said many times that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and it’s never rung truer than with budgeting and establishing a household together. Open communication about gender roles and expectations are a necessity to avoid the awkward tension of unexpressed expectations that lead to conflict. Often, a fight could be avoided altogether if we had simply taken the time to talk about our feelings in the moment rather than holding our feelings in and allowing time to pass and our hearts to begrudge one another. Thankfully, over the last few months we’ve learned the way to overcome this flaw is to call for occasional time-outs and admit that there is conflict/tension/disagreement and talk it out. Trying to avoid the elephant in the room never eliminates the elephant, no matter how badly we wish it would.

Speaking of elephants – how about sex! Yep, I went there. I cannot express the freedom there is being with my wife and knowing I’m loved wholeheartedly despite all of my brokenness. Unfortunately, the world’s view of sex is just so skewed. It’d probably take a whole other blog post or book to dispel all of the false doctrine my young mind encountered in college and as a young adult. But what I’ll tell you is this – there is a reason the Bible calls for sex to be something saved for marriage. Whether it be pornography, promiscuous “friendships” or “innocent” flirting, every aspect of your heart, soul, and body that you give to another prior to marriage will haunt you. And remember that honesty thing…it’s better to bare my soul to the beautiful woman that has chosen to stand by my side for the rest of her life than to attempt hiding the skeletons in the caverns of my heart. After all, there’s nothing more healing than the light, no love greater than an honest, warm, covered by the grace of God embrace from another that simply refuses to give up on you.

Along with getting married in 2017, I became Papa Meyer to our Puppy-Bear, Harvey. You’ve probably seen him light up social-media with his cute expressions and seen our frustrated posts about him destroying our property and creating stress in our home. Prior to Harverford (his legal name), I’d never known what it was like to own a dog. It’s interesting the bond you start to form with the young guy. I guess you could say that we’re pals now. But good Lord can he make me angry. I’m still getting the hang of being a puppy-daddy but Allie seems to think I’m doing a great job and that’s what matters.

Professionally, I’ve seen myself excel in a career in Sales. The key to my success has been refocusing on my relationship with God and trusting that He will provide. It’s ironic how when I’m not worried about the money, I perform exceptionally. And when I’m too focused on the numbers, I have a bad week because I’m trying too hard. It’s a constant battle between trying to be the best and remembering to find the right work-life balance. When we get to heaven, he’s not going to care how many cars I sold – he’s going to care about how many lives I embraced with his grace.

Last but not least I was meeting with my Men’s Group on Saturday morning at 7AM as I do nearly every week and I found myself giving this piece of advice to a brother in Christ in the room. “Pause, and love yourself.” Ironically, I think I’m the person that needs this advice the most. I’m an all-in or all-out kind of guy. In college, I was either getting an A or barely scraping by with a C. That sort of hot-and-cold perfectionism, emotionally charged intellectual has always been a yo-yo of existence and rarely do I find myself doing just that – pausing. Pausing to love, myself.

2017 taught me a lot. It taught me that one of the greatest things about marriage is losing yourself and finding someone else. Finding the man that you’d buried deep beneath the pain and hurt and insecurity and calling him out to be the husband for the beautiful bride. It taught me to take nothing for granted and that wealth must be earned. It taught me that God’s grace can overcome absolutely anything, even if I’m too scared to surrender it. And it’s taught me that true freedom is a truly surrendered heart to His will.

That’s all I have for now! Looking forward to all there is to learn in 2018.

2017

The Darkness Took Over (And Something About Gold)

At some point, the darkness took over. It convinced me I was worthless, incapable, and not strong enough to go on. Satan’s whispers that my past wrongdoings were in fact my true identity and that the righteous man I’d masqueraded to be was simply a false identity. I’d been found wanted and I’d never amount to anything ever again.

I wish I could say that I told the devil that he was wrong and quickly reclaimed my true identity in Christ, trusting and leaning into the light. But I didn’t. I stayed there in that dark place, allowing myself to remain imprisoned by the past. The darkness took over.

The Bible talks about how if we give in to sin long enough, God will hand us over to it and I believe the last decade of my life was a sort of testament to that. I tried to outrun and out-think the Lord, as if that were possible. I convinced myself that lies were the truth and that the truth was a lie and I believed whatever tickled my ears and my ego.

Something interesting happens when you get married. You may have been able to lie to yourself all those years, but now you’ve got the accountability of another that is relying on you as much as you’re relying on them, and eventually they end up knowing you better than you know yourself. With Allie’s loving, loyal, strong, constant companionship by my side, I began to have to face my emotional weaknesses and my past.

I discovered that I couldn’t keep secrets from her and I couldn’t pretend I only spent $30 that week if I truly spent $50 and went over the spending budget. I learned that a half-truth isn’t the truth and it’s always best to be open, honest, and sincere regarding everything, even if it’s “not a big deal.” With our lives intertwined and every decision we both individually make affecting both of us, there’s a lot more at stake and our individual “liberties” cannot be taken lightly. Self-discipline becomes all the more important when your lack of self-control in any area of life no longer affects just you, it begins to affect another person as well.

In roughly 5 weeks, Allie and I will have been married for a year. We will get to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. February 4th will be an amazing day to look back and remember all of the growth that we’ve experienced together. I am so proud of the woman she is today compared to the woman she was when I married her – not that she wasn’t already impressive then, just that I’ve seen her endure and remain steadfast through a whole year of highs and lows.

One of our favorite artists has a line that goes something like this, “It’s not about the mountain-tops, it’s about the walking in-between.” Ben Rector is right, it’s about walking through the valleys of life, together, that matters the most.

So yes, I let the darkness take over. And yes, I’ve been in a sad, depressed season – but in the grand scheme of things, it’s just a valley. The sun will shine again. Spring will come. We will experience new highs and new lows in 2018. But most important of all, we will always be together. And the past for either of us, the darkness from our sin past and present and future, does not define us. It’s simply a part of the growing process.

In “Love Lives Here” written by Maria Goff, she talks about life being similar to a gold mine. We often hope to find gold laying around on the surface, easy to pick up and cash in on. But often, it’s found deeper in the mine, under lots of ugly rocks and dirt. It takes a lot of heavy lifting and a lot of time, but eventually we can all find the right within our hearts. And we’re wasting our time if we’re trying to dig up someone else’s gold because that’s not ours to have (gossip/envy). It’s when we’ve put in the hard work to discover the gifts within the cave of our hearts that we may come across treasures that could be passed on for generations. No longer do we have to be cursed by generational sins and struggles, but we can pass on the gifts of freedom, unconditional love, and refreshing joy.

So as we enter 2018 with our figurative and literal picks and shovels, may the Lord bless our digging, and may we all find some gold in the darkness.

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Conversation Cafe’s & FOMO

When I was in college there was this group that would meet once a week and just talk. They were called “Conversation Cafe’s” – the idea was to give international students a chance to practice their English and make some American friends. To be frank, I was naive and immature in my viewpoint at the time and I thought they were lame and cheesy. At this point in my life, looking back, I was wrong.

I think that group had the right idea. What better way to be inviting and to love on people. Everyone has a desire to connect and when you walk off that plane and into a new country, it can be quite scary. K-State had a fairly diverse student body and a very welcoming atmosphere and family feel they’ve spent years building, but I’m betting that Conversation Cafe was where a lot of friendships started. Perhaps it was awkward and hard at first to talk to people you (in that moment) think you have very little in common with, aside from your love for coffee and sugar. But after a while, as you took the time to get to know one another, I bet you discovered other similarities – perhaps you shared some fears/insecurities or maybe some personal strengths and dreams, or favorite sports. At the very least, you could probably unite about the excitement of seeing a K-State Football game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, or enjoying ice-cream. Because if you don’t like ice-cream, then there truly is something wrong with you.

As Allie and I were sitting on the couch last night watching How The Grinch Stole Christmas (no, you didn’t read that wrong – Christmas starts in October, according to her), we started sharing what was on our hearts and one of the topics that came up was the lack of open and honest communication that exists nowadays. Genuine conversation and handwritten letters have been substituted with random, quirky interjections on social-media platforms and brief check-in texts with friends. One of the guys in my men’s group was talking with me on the phone about the issue of social-media and how it’s kind of poisoned our society and he said, “It should be called anti-social-media – there’s nothing social about it! There can be a room full of people and we will all be looking down at our phones the minute there’s a brief lull in the conversation. When’s the last time we were all just present with one another?” I had found this comment convicting and left my phone upstairs in our bedroom last night which ended up being extremely fruitful as it made me entirely present – taking the time to be emotionally intimate with my wife and to help rearrange some furniture in the living-room.

One of my sisters had shared with my wife and I that whenever she doesn’t receive enough likes on a photo or status update, she deletes it. The other day we tuned into one of her Instagram Live updates where she’s in a room with her friends, sipping on iced-tea and randomly chatting. It broke my heart for her when her two friends in the room were also streaming their own Instagram Live videos – there was no real interaction or conversation or storytelling or much of a point to the interaction – and when one of her friends looks at my sister’s phone, she said “Oh wow – only 8 viewers…” What made me sadder is that my sister didn’t even blink. I don’t even think she recognized the verbal abuse that just occurred because it probably happens all the time. (High-schoolers can be ruthless. I had some friends do some extra crappy things to me as well, but still…)

Our world is attention starved. “Pay attention to me! Like me! Share my stuff! If you retweet this, I’ll do this…” Manipulative, fear-based, and lonely – the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) culture has taken over the youth culture, and unfortunately, it’s penetrated “young” adults hearts like myself as well. When a young girl feels the only way to keep her love-interests attention is to dress slutty and perform acts she would rather not participate in before marriage, it is often because she lacks a genuine connection with someone that’s spoken into her life about her worth. She’s worth more than her cleavage and high-heels. And when a young man spends his days glued to his smartphone, constantly seeking the next high of someone liking him on Tinder and wanting a one-night stand, it is often because there wasn’t a man in his life speaking lovingly into his heart that he is capable, created in God’s image, and called to something greater than what the world has to offer.

When one is tied up in knots with an addiction to pornography or the necessity of a bottle of wine “after a hard day at work” on a several nights a week basis, it’s because they are lacking. Filling emotional, mental, and spiritual voids with substances and experiences outside of their healthy limits because they’ve forgotten. They have forgotten that they’re loved. Or perhaps they haven’t forgotten – perhaps they’ve simply never been genuinely loved or experienced a genuine connection with another human-being. And Allie and I’s hearts break for those people.

One of the things that makes me swoon for Allie is her big, soft heart. An amazing listener and so kind-hearted, it didn’t take long for my family to love her. “You’ve kind of set the standard,” said one of my siblings about the kind of woman a Meyer man should marry. So when she listens to someone tell their story of being cheated on, or experiencing abuse, or their feelings of worthlessness, it breaks her heart and stirs up in her a desire to help. And I think she’s rubbed off on me. When I see men constantly chasing after counterfeit affections to convince themselves they’re a man now, or avoiding responsibility and close relationships for fear of being hurt, my heart breaks for them. Do they not know they’re loved?

So this week, I want to challenge my readers. What can you do to show someone you love them? I read an “open letter” on the NFL protests written by a former Green Beret and he said, “I would love for those two leaders (Kaepernick and Trump) to have that conversation, but more than anything I just want us to love one another again. One great thing about freedom is that you get to choose everyday how you treat your neighbor.” Preach it, Nate Boyer.

I want us to love one another again. I want us to talk without being divisive and stirring up conflict. To have a conversation without talking at each other. I want hard, taboo topics to be discussed and people to be loved even if they do not change, because only the Holy Spirit is in the business of changing hearts.

The best thing that you and I can do this week is to pray for our enemies and those that have gone missing in the Kingdom and to be vulnerable with our hearts, that the Light may come into our relationships and kill the Darkness.

So put the phone down, brew a pot of coffee, and invite your neighbors over – maybe we need to be hosting some Conversation Cafe’s of our own…

conversation cafe

Recycling Regret & A Carpenter’s Touch

A little over 3 weeks ago, I went dark. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still experiencing some withdrawals and that I cannot wait to be back in the loop with what is going on with the world and what my friends are up to. But I can also say that I think I’ve managed to learn a few things and to counteract that initial urge to just tweet away every last thought.

In fact – Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat have met their fatal ends with me and Facebook will be utilized with a more limited capacity. They’re far too much of a distraction in a season of immense personal growth. There’s no need to keep up with the Kardashians (figuratively speaking) when I need to learn to keep up with what God wants to do in my life.

The church that Allie and myself have begun planting ourselves in is going through a series called Recycling Regret, and I think it’s been the perfect series for both of our hearts. Whether it be regrets within the context of our relationship, regrets from our individual pasts, or regrets within our immediate relationships with family and friends – there are fragments of our hearts that need Jesus’ healing. There are times when we’re looking at each other, knowing the other needs to be comforted and it’s hard (when you’re married to someone) to realize that you’re not going to be enough to comfort them in that given situation. They’re going to need something more – a close friend is a good start, but even that close friend is not going to be enough sometimes. In God’s perfect design, he’s left a hole in our hearts that only He can fill.

It’s funny though because we’ll spend a solid portion of our lives trying to fill that hole with other things – counterfeit affections that never fully satisfy – or we will overcompensate by attempting to put an individual in the role of God in our lives. Maybe it’s your best-friend from growing up or a significant other you’ve become infatuated with. Maybe it’s your relationship with your parents or your boss at work. Somehow, in an attempt to fill that hole in your heart, you’ve tried to put them in that place – yearning for their approval and affection, entrusting them with your past, present, and future – and then one day, somehow (because they’re human), they fail you. You’re left hurting or abandoned or simply left with needs that are still unmet. And that’s because you’re running to the wrong source.

If you’re thirsty, you have to drink water. You can sit at the bar all night long and pound pints of beer back but at the end of the night, you’re still going to need a glass of water to not be thirsty. In the same way, you can have a dozen friends that you keep ties with and are constantly surrounding yourself with but the only relationship that is going to fully satisfy your heart’s deepest needs is your relationship with God.

I still remember a quote form my college minister that went something like, “The address to God is at the end of your rope.”

It’s always stuck with me.

In your darkest hours. In your loneliness and hurt and pain and suffering. In the times when it feels like you can’t do anything right or like you’ll never amount to anything. In the moments where you’ve given up on yourself. God always seems to be right there, arms open, eyes filled with love, ready to lift you back up and set you on the right course.

C.S. Lewis calls pain God’s megaphone. And I think he’s right. Pain sucks. But it’s there for a reason and there’s a lot to be learned from it. So don’t waste your pain doing things that will only lead to more pain. Take the time to do the work to process through what God is trying to teach you so that you may find life.

And if I can let you in on a little secret – there is no escaping God’s economy of reaping what you sow. You may not have to pay the bill of your sin today but like a credit-card bill that you’ve put off until last minute, eventually it’s going to debit your bank account whether the money is there or not. Sin will find a way to take from you what you thought it would offer; it’ll garnish your wages and reduce your heart to rubble just for fun.

The good news is that God’s in the business of recycling. Of taking something old and broken and making it something new and good and useful. He’s in the business of renovation. Taking the old rooms in your heart and turning them into masterpieces where people can come for refuge and strength.

Jesus was a tradesmen as a young man, trained in the craft of carpentry. I’m lucky to be crafted by His hands; grateful that He’s in the process of sanding me down, buffing me out, and turning me into something good.