4PM – Wrestling Through My Authentic Self

It’s almost 4PM and I’ve gotta be honest, despite an incredible week of discipline and life-changing decisions, I haven’t accomplished much today. Some days you wake up and the crippling expectations of perfection you’ve placed on yourself cripple your movements. You don’t want to get up and work toward your goals because, what if you fail? You share the incredible progress you’ve made in your weight-loss journey and set a reachable, but difficult goal and share it with your Facebook friends and then you shrink into bed for an afternoon nap because how you’re afraid you won’t achieve it.

You remember the meeting that you set up with the lead pastor of your megachurch, who kindly took an hour out of his day to set up a meeting with you to share tips on how to become a better writer, shared his own story on how he came to be one, and then you find yourself paralyzed by the fear of not being enough and you barely have the inner strength to get yourself back behind the keyboard again – even though you know it’s exactly where you belong.

You’re the kind of person that walks into a room and the temperature changes. You go into a meeting at work and if you’re on, it’s noticeable – and if you’re down, it’s going to bring the room down. You don’t even have to be assigned the role of leadership, you just naturally are the leader – your words have power, your actions bring results, and your passion – present or not – makes itself felt.

And you set this unrealistic expectation on yourself that you always have to be on, all of the time. If you’re at the family-dinner and you’re feeling a little sullen and not being the life-of-the-party, peace-keeper that everyone knows you’re capable of being then you’ve somehow failed them.

But have you? Is it really your job to be everyone’s Jesus? And do you have to be at 100% every day to compete?

There are Major League Baseball pitchers who’s job is to be ON, bringing the heat, throwing the strikes game-after-game-after-game, and even they are going to have an off day. I think of the late Royals Pitcher Yordano Ventura – throwing gas most of the time and sometimes he was just plain awful, but he was still the young-star and his energy was felt. His presence was made known, at every single game – on the sidelines or in the action, on the mound at Kauffman Stadium.

But what makes guys like Salvador Perez so valuable to the Royals? It’s his authenticity – he is always himself, all of the time. He’s leading the emotional, physical, and mental charge, all of the time – on and off the field. And he’s having fun while he’s doing it!

Brene Brown writes, “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”

That got me thinking…

If my blog is about Embracing God’s Grace and believing in His redemptive power to overcome my weaknesses – if His love can cover over a multitude of my sins, and if I think Jesus took my place on the cross…

Then why am I still hiding in bed?

And so I got up, put my clothes back on (as the world outside cheered and thanked me for doing so), and came downstairs to the computer to pound out my choppy thoughts on the day. Chopping writing is better than no writing.

“Practice your craft,” my pastor said.

So it may be just a quarter after 4PM as I’m briefly editing this, but the day isn’t over yet and I didn’t surrender fully to the Enemy. God’s not finished with me yet. And he’s not finished writing your story either. So if you’re having one of those days where you’re stuck hiding in bed, or slinking behind your coworkers and avoiding being seen and known, I’d encourage you to be brave today and trust that His grace is enough.

I encourage you join in the “daily practice of letting go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embracing who you are.”

You can see the first week of our progress in how attractive my beautiful wife and I are in this photo of us at my buddy Matt’s wedding this Saturday! I’m one heck of a lucky man!

justin and allie

It’s Okay

It’s okay to pause and reflect. To be in pain and feel emotion. You’re allowed to stop and rest. You’re allowed to say, “No.” To another task. To fleeing. You’re allowed to just be.

Driving down the highway toward Kansas City, I felt emotions coming. They were good, warm, fuzzy, feelings of love mixed with a little mild anxiety. But mainly, good. As emotional as I am, I like to drown out those emotions as quickly as possible. Turn up the music, focus on work, find a reason to worry about something else. Instead – I turned the Bluetooth to Steffany Gretzinger’s “The Undoing” and came undone.

The emotions hit me. I’m loved. It’s okay. I don’t have to be on edge all the time. There’s no reason for bitterness to creep in because others are simply interested in my life. They just want to be there. What an honor – that I have those people that want to be there with me. There will come a day when I’m in the hospital and people will show up. What a blessing!

Society has taught us to stiff-arm love. I’m not sure what it is or why we do it. But love comes and gets into our personal space and asks us deep questions and we get uncomfortable. We shift. We avoid. We rebel.

And to what end?

To the end of isolation.

We find ourselves sitting alone with a phone empty of notifications. Hey – they tried and we shut them down enough times that they stopped trying. (Unless you’re my friend. I’m fairly relentless. I’ll eventually come knocking. ;P)

We are better together.

It’s okay to not have life figured out yet. Allie has looked into my eyes and reminded me of this gentle truth a hundred times in the 10 months we’ve been dating. “Justin, you’re 26, you’re working hard, you’re trying…that’s all anyone can ask of you. Stop being so hard on yourself. I love you.” Praise Jesus for that love. Praise Jesus. (And there come those joyful tears I spoke of earlier…)

A friend of mine is trying to start a marketing/branding company and I’ve been assisting with that minimally (as I’m still learning the ins and outs of my new job). One of the first projects we’d like to do is rebrand my writing and blog to reach a wider audience and figure out what makes my “voice” unique. What’s my niche? How have I acquired so many followers over the course of the last few years?

I think it comes down to transparency. A humbleness of heart that is willing to say, “Hey guys, this is me. I love coffee and I love beer. Christianity is the foundation of who I am, what I believe, and the way I attempt to live, but we’re all kidding ourselves if we say we’ve never wrestled with doubt, setbacks, or sins we’re overcoming. The war wages on – light against darkness – joy against fear – love against hate.”

So I pledge to make my “brand” – who I am, what I do, and how I write as real, tangible, applicable, and inspiring as possible. And you know what – sometimes it’s going to plain suck and other times you may see seed-plants of an aspiring New York Times Bestselling Author (that’s the dream). Sometimes it’ll be about Jesus and other times it’ll be about the world, politics, entertainment, my personal life. It’ll be awesome regardless.

So today’s blog is a reminder that it’s okay. You’re loved where you’re at. We just don’t want to see you stay there forever, because growth and change are good things. Hard things, but good things. They promote Kingdom Living. They give your family hope and courage. But it’s okay. Pause today. Reflect today. Love yourself today. There’s no need to keep loathing yourself until tomorrow.

Right There With You,

Justin Meyer

its okay

Awake!

“Do not fear, O children of God. Do not worry, children of Jerusalem. Men and Women of the United States; brothers and sisters of Manhattan, KS, the Kingdom is coming! Rise up, shout, praise, sing, and dance! Victory is coming! King Jesus has won. Away from us, evil one. Your dwelling place is not here! This city has been claimed by the Holy One. In The Light, there is no darkness at all.” (Journal Entry, 8/25/2012)

We have been living far too long as if our lives will amount to nothing. Perhaps I should not speak on behalf of all of you, so allow me to restate that…I, Justin, have been living far too long as is my life will amount to nothing. “Absolute nonsense!” says the LORD. As Paul writes in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the one who loved me and gave himself for me.” This is my declaration of faith; my ‘salvation-verse’, so to speak. If Christ of Nazareth and His Spirit is truly to dwell within me, then how could my life amount to nothing?!?! That is to say that Christ, Himself, shall amount to nothing…What a radically idiotic statement.

As you may see from my journal entry above, dating back to the beginning of the academic year here at Kansas State, my heart has been heavily burdened with awaiting upon the LORD for the redemption of my city, Manhattan, KS. LORD-willing and dependent upon hard work, diligence, and an incredible amount of GRACE from the Holy Spirit, I will graduate from this great academic institution in a matter of months. To what degree will my class have impacted the 23,000+ hearts/souls on the campus? To what magnitude will they have experienced the deep, compassionate, life-changing love of Jehovah Jireh, LORD of Lords, KING of Kings, Adonai, King Jesus?

I believe the answer to many of the aforementioned, rhetorical-questions lies within another simple, yet difficult, question: How SURRENDERED are each of us (you AND me) to the LORD? Essentially, to what extent have we laid aside our personal ambitions to satisfy our flesh, that we may live by the Spirit, for the Spirit? C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Hell is a place where you always have to do whatever you want to do.” We must come to a greater realization of our depravity and inability to do anything good by satisfying our own sinful desires in order to give up our constant pursuit of counterfeit-affections. A deepening understanding of our sinful hearts leads to a greater dependency upon the LORD and an undeterred gratitude for the beauty of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection!

Now, how can I expect you (the reader) to deeply consider this, without placing my heart on the table, that you may see my own need for total surrender to the LORD. If anyone desires for others to take a step in the right direction, then they should have already taken two steps that way. It is in this spirit that I’d like to share another journal entry…

“LORD, I have neglected Your love and chosen counterfeit forms of love/affection that have robbed me of my ability to fully love, dwell in, and serve You wholeheartedly. Please wash over me in your grace, mercy, and love…Above women, I will serve You. Above money, I will seek You. Above status, I will love You.” (My Journal, August 2012)

“And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.” (1 John 2:28) PERSEVERE.

Trials will come. More likely, trials are already occurring. There will be many efforts made to deter the body of Believers from pursuing the LORD wholeheartedly and keeping them from bringing others into the Kingdom of God. The #1 way for the enemy to oppose The Church is division. We must realize this and make every effort to counter attempts to break us apart. Above all things, it is necessary that we walk in total surrender to the LORD, allowing His Love to wash over any and everything we do. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

If you read, remember, comprehend, or enact ANYTHING from the things I’ve written, allow it to be the next couple sentences….WE MUST WAKE UP! There is constant spiritual warfare taking place all around us. The course of real lives, hearts, and souls are on the line as we interact with and serve alongside people daily. One hurtful word or a single harsh action could be all that it takes for a seed of doubt or bitterness to form inside the heart of any individual (myself included). Members of the Body of Christ, we are called to holiness. The word “holy”, means to be set apart. In the case of pursuing the holiness of God, we are to be set apart for the service of the LORD in every circumstance, seeking to live above reproach by the strength of the Him who sends us.

It’s insane to consider the concept that the Creator of the Universe has enlisted me in His plan for the redemption of the LORD…A friend of mine, Rachael, stated it well earlier this week, “Think about this: God despises sin AND He knows everything…..so how is it I am still alive!? Because of love. Uhmazing.” If there is even a hint of humility within your hearts, this statement should resonate within each of your hearts. Praise Him for the grace and love provided to cover over our many sins and short-comings. Through His provision, it is indeed possible to live a lifestyle that is above reproach.

May the LORD use these words of exhortation to awaken hearts and breathe life into our hearts and souls as we endure the race that is set before us.

Frustration: Let’s Get REAL!

One of the many difficulties I had grasping the concept of following Christ with EVERYTHING that I had early in my college-career was the fact that all of the so-called Christians seemed to have everything together. There was NO WAY that I could be like them. Not a chance…I mean, I had problems. And they all seemed to hold their own. They attended their campus ministries, had regular church attendance, had Scripture memorized, knew all the wise things to say in various situations, and were even looked up to by a decent portion of the student body.

Well, as an upperclassmen within the body of believers on the K-State campus, I refuse to be viewed as that Christian that has it all together. In my own opinion, the body of believers must remain authentic and real in all they do. There is an unstated pressure to be perfect; to constantly model the values of Christ without fault and if we do come to fault, then we better brush it under the rug and keep smiling. Let me make something clear before continuing…I love Jesus Christ! There is not a single doubt about that. Without Him as my LORD and Savior there is nothing worth living passionately for; at all. Nothing else will satisfy like His undying, unconditional, perfect, unconditional; love, grace, and mercy. BUT just because I am a follower of the Most High God does NOT mean that life suddenly becomes perfect. Nor does it require that even as an individual that is now slightly older and “more experienced/wise” than my classmates, that I pretend to be perfect.

So, let’s get REAL! You’ll notice that an undying theme within my writing, speech, and person as a whole is the concept that being authentic is the more valuable asset an individual can have. If you’re doubting; then tell your friends that you are! If you don’t believe you’re saved; then why put a front like you are? If you don’t have a conviction on a certain set of “Christian values” (drinking, smoking, movies, etc); then don’t pretend that you do (I’m not currently stating my position on any of the aforementioned; just saying that we should be REAL. Don’t PRETEND). So let’s do this thing! Let’s get real.

I am currently very frustrated. For those of you that have been around me the past few days; I’m NOT frustrated with you. But I am frustrated with myself. Oh so very frustrated. Romans 7:19-21 says, “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” I would say this verse does an excellent job portraying the current state of my mind and life. I am well-aware of what I need to be doing, the steps to take to defeat sin, and to live free from the bondage of my own hurtful thoughts but the battle against my flesh is never-ending.

Does this mean that I am doomed to a life of failure? No…Peter, who is revered as the rock that the church was built on, struggled. In fact, he denied knowing Jesus three times in one day! Before the Holy Spirit revealed Himself to Simon (Peter), he was a slanderous, envious, murder of Christians. How on earth could a man of his nature be considered worth of building the church in which we now worship Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior? And then to add the cherry on top, as a son of the Most High God, Peter DENIES His Savior, denying ANY association with the man whatsoever. He’s still saved.

It is BY GRACE that I have been saved. It is BY GRACE that Peter was saved; along with the rest of the 12 disciples, the majority of which became martyrs for their belief in Jesus Christ. I pray that someday my faith will be that strong. Similar to the faith of the young high school students at Columbine High School that stood up for what they believed in at gun-point. That’s faith!

Okay, back to my point, I am not perfect and I am frustrated. I’ve been poured into by countless people, I’ve been raised in a household that took me to church, furnished each of us with a Bible, displayed biblical values, etc and I am still NOT perfect and I am still frustrated. Why?

I’ll tell you why: My GPA is pathetic compared to what I am potentially capable of from observing my high school GPA and my previous comprehension capability. My weight is dreadful. At 6’3”, I have some room to be big, but I shouldn’t be the monstrous 270 lbs that I am. I’m EASILY 60 lbs heavier than I was as a 6’2” high school graduate almost 4 years ago. I know the detrimental effects of sin; yet I still go there. I’m convicted and have even written and taught that you either love God and hate sin or you love sin and hate God. But there are still days that I decide that I love sin more than I love my Savior!!!! If there were ever a time I’d like to cuss myself out due to frustration, it’d be now. One more reason, would be that I’m SURROUNDED by people that love and care about me but I will often choose to isolate myself, which leads to depression and far too much time to remember my own flaws.

So there ya have it…Friends, family, followers, readers, and whatever other audience I am potentially forgetting. I am not perfect. I am frustrated, but I am a believer in Jesus Christ as my LORD and Savior. I cry. I love. I sin. I fear. I struggle. I fight. I lose.

This leads to the next chapter of my learning process as a believer though…as mentioned in “The Battle: Dying to Yourself”, I mentioned that the personal pronouns such as “I”, “Me,”, “Mine,” etc were detrimental to us dying to ourselves and allowing Christ to dwell and live within us. So, I will close with a request. Pray that Justin Meyer dies to himself.

Jesus Christ of Nazareth was crucified, buried, and pronounced dead, but He conquered death and was victorious over sin when He rose from the grave!!! If Christ has the reigns, if Christ takes the flesh that I have and uses it for the glory of His Kingdom, then Christ WILL be victorious and I will have been saved from myself. THAT is salvation. That is the truth of the Gospel. That is what makes 2 Corinthians 5:17 possible.

Blessings Family!

P.S. I encourage you to join me in this battle of dying to yourself and allowing Christ to live within you. It truly is a never-ending battle until the day that we are sanctified with Christ upon His second coming, BUT we can experience, freedom, and victory within our lives. It won’t be glamorous, perfect, or pretty. There will be pain, bumps, bruises, and the occasional extra 50 lbs of flesh that needs to be lost. But ask yourself…have you find anything better? Has sex fulfilled you? Has alcoholism made you happy? Do drugs make your life better? Are you saved by self-infliction or self-glorification?