I See Greatness In You

I asked God to speak to me today. In prayer, out loud – I said, “Lord, I want to hear your voice – to feel your presence and to know that you are for me.” And I waited on the Lord; I waited for Him to come. And He didn’t…Not right away, anyways.

But somehow, going through the motions of the day, Allie and I began to open up – sharing deeper and deeper longings and dreams in our hearts and taking the time to intentionally ask questions and seek out more intimate truths. Walking further into the caverns of each other and finding precious rubies in each others hearts.

Vulnerable moments. The kind that make you hesitate before you share. The impulse comes and you begin to speak but doubt clouds your judgment and stills your tongue – wait a couple moments longer and you’ll be silenced – and then again the words come to your lips, you take a leap of faith and let them escape, exposing yourself to the other’s impact.

In that moment, you’ve chosen to be known.

And insecure fear can race into your mind, forcing you to wonder whether or not you should have shared that intimate part of yourself.

And in those moments today, we both found Jesus looking back at us – the other listened, asked questions, and went to the King as their mediator, gently refusing to pass judgment or throw the first stone.

“I see greatness in you.”

“I see greatness in you,” my wife said as we paused and reflected on the wonderful day of sharing that we had experienced together. “It’s the moments you’ve taken in your life to be vulnerable with others and listened to their counsel that have led to your greatness today, and more greatness to come.” (Slightly paraphrasing. But the message was clear, straight from the Lord. Two separate messages. First – a playful, “I heard your prayer and answered it. Didn’t I?” Because He spoke to me, clearly, plainly, and beautifully – just in a different way than I had expected. The second message became clearer the more I meditated on the words my wife had spoken. “I’m proud of you, son.”)

“I’m proud of you, son.”

Unashamed. The Lord, my King and Father, is unashamed of me. He isn’t passing judgement on my weight or lack of income recently due to poor sales or my insecure worrying and constant pleas for others to pray for me, because of my disbelief in the effectiveness of my own prayers. He isn’t saying, “Go read one more chapter of the Bible and then I’ll pour out my love and affection upon you.”

The story of the prodigal son is true. It’s my story and it can be yours true. A ragamuffin, troubled by the thorn in Paul’s side, recovering from addiction to counterfeit affections by God’s grace. Every memory of hurt and torment, every word of abuse, every fragile friendship that experienced abandonment, Jesus has offered to take those from me and to replace them with His love. All I had to do was let Him in. Never once after letting Him in has He cursed me with residency in my past, dooming me to a life of shame. Rather, He’s freed me from my shackles and shown me His powerful mercy and grace. To the point that my beautiful, outstanding, strong, faithful, kind, merciful, Christ-like wife said, “I see greatness in you.”

Words that melted my heart, softened me to His Love. Tonight, I’m Embracing God’s Grace. I’m accepting myself because He accepts me – not as an acquaintance and not even as a distance friend, but as a son – a son that He is proud of.

vulnerability

The Fear Of Starting

I’m 27 and so far in life I’ve rarely gotten past just starting. What do I mean?  That I’ve started a book but haven’t made it past Chapter 2 and have sort of given up on the idea. I mean that I’ve initiated a weight loss challenge within my family, gone at it hard for a few days and then sidelined myself with the excuse of “busy” and “tired” and “discouraged.” And now my wife and I are considering starting up a business of our own and I can already feel the fear and anxiety creeping in.

At what point do we tell fear it has no place here? No place in my heart or mind or ideas or my home. That it doesn’t belong. It’s not allowed to take over my creativity and passion or subdue my talents with the lure of addictions that are simply a coping mechanism for its presence or ensnare me in apathy, a pretending that one doesn’t care when really they “don’t care” because they care too much (about what others will think). How does one tell fear that you will now harness it and use it as fuel? If I fear financial destruction, then I will write up a plan. If I fear heart conditions, then I will exercise regularly and eat less brownies (although the ones we whipped up this week were DELICIOUS). If I fear vulnerability, then I will find others that are being vulnerable and we will encourage one another in our authenticity.

Faith over fear, so to speak. If God created us and made us in His image, then are we not designed to be creators ourselves? If I’ve always been socially adaptable and energized by crowds of like-minded individuals and unafraid of those who challenge me with differing ideas, then what do I have to fear? What can someone’s objection or challenge do but strengthen my resolve or help me find a better solution?

Why do we settle? Will I be able to forgive myself if I decline us the opportunity to do something together and different and exciting simply because we had little faith? What can I do to increase my faith but to pray and try and discuss? All of which, if even they lead to failure, will only lead to more discipline and success in other areas.

Too often we allow ourselves to believe that if we cannot run a mile now, then we never will and we might as well not try. I’ve tried that mentality and it’s gotten me nowhere.

It’s time to shake things up, rattle some cages, and do the hard work of continuing the projects I’ve started. I may not finish, but why give up before you’ve even started? And why not test yourself to see if you can run even further than you thought? Why not increase the weight and see if you’ve actually got what it takes to lift it?

We just might surprise ourselves.

(Share your stories of overcoming the fear of failure and how you’ve bettering yourselves, as writers, entrepreneurs, wives/husbands and so on. How do you continue to fuel the fire for growth and throw off the old self of self-doubt, apathy, and killing ideas before they’ve even had a chance to take shape?)

fear

Awestruck Adventure

Consider me an observer. I watch the world around me, take it in, and ponder the reality of its’ existence. The stars proclaim majesty! Each sunset is a fresh, new, unbelievable painting. Flowers in all of their shades of color scream beauty from the dirty soil that they sprout up from; something beautiful from dirt, something seen as messy and inconvenient (by my mother anyways). Have you ever been near the edge of a forest during a sunrise? The bright, radiant, streaks of light that beam through the woods with the beginnings of a new day, calling one forth to embark upon its’ journey, to wonder a little farther into the woods to see what lies ahead? And what about the brilliance of snow; unique, pure-white, snow-flakes falling by the millions upon the ground to allow children (and myself) the joy of packing snowballs and throwing them at their friends (or parental figures). If I had to choose just a few words to describe the world that we walk, live, and breathe in each day, I would choose, “awestruck adventure.”

Why is it then that much of modern-day life seems so mundane, contrite, tiresome, and void?

Have you ever asked yourself the question as to why the great action-packed movies of adventure and triumph, such as The Dark Knight, Inception, Braveheart, Lord of The Rings, etc. has such a powerful draw and allure to draw you and your friends in for hours of movie-marathons and late-night screenings that beg to question your sanity?

I believe the reason that you and I are so drawn in by the concepts found within the aforementioned movies and many other exciting books, TV shows, etc. is because they are chalk-full of adventure and our lives are simply lacking it.

But why? Why would our lives lack adventure if the world around us is shouting “awestruck adventure” at the top of its’ lungs?

I believe it is because we are scared. Courage is not seen as a healthy characteristic these days, as its’ nearest connotation is foolishness and the disregard for safety and security, our modern-day idols. Yes, safety and security can become idols, especially if we are willing to place our safety and security above the Gospel. Consider this, if I am unwilling to walk into a neighborhood known for its’ gang-activity in order to minister to people in need there, then I am guilty of deeming self-preservation, and my own safety, as more important than reaching my fellow men and women with the truth they need to hear and be actively touched by via loving actions, etc. And to be honest, I’ve been guilty of this many times.

Did Jesus and His disciples run when the Roman soldiers came to arrest them? Nope. Peter took his sword and was ready to fight; actually cutting the ear off of one of the people attempting to take Jesus, whose words were, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11) Awestruck adventure. Talk about an action-packed lifestyle, one of living fearlessly for a King worth dying for.

Up until now, I have never been a Lord of the Rings fan, but upon viewing The Hobbit, I have a new appreciation for the epic tails of adventure. My fascination with it lies within the life of Bilbo Baggins, “The Hobbit”. His constant desire at the beginning of the movie is to be within the warm comforts of the shire. The shire is where generations of his beings have grown up in the safety of beautiful meadows and plentiful surroundings. I would potentially equate the shire to the safety of home, such of my growing up in the comfortable suburban area of Johnson County. But Bilbo does not become a hero, with a tale worth being told, until he is willing to lay safety and security aside, and to follow Gandolf out into the broken world to seek justice! (What do ya know? It’s Biblical!)

The danger is real and the fear that follows is there as expected. But courage is born when just action takes place despite fear being present, extinguishing fear’s ‘power’.

We are surrounded by a world that is broken. There is no ignoring the fact that there is evil present in the world and that the world is certainly a dangerous place. But what do we do? Shall we lie in wait for the fearful world to break down our doors and to take our life and our freedom? Shall we remain a people paralyzed by fear, as the enemies of God so greatly desire; rendering us as ineffective witnesses? I certainly hope not.

Now, I have never been one to be described as brave. I am terrified of snakes, spiders, and anything creepy-crawly. I am not a huge fan of the dark, even as a young-adult. And yet, I know that living in fear is simply not an option. It can’t be. It’s not really living. It’s accepting death; a life without life.

I believe it is time for us to take after Baggins’ heroic decision to leave the safety of familiarity and to embrace a lifestyle worth living; one of total and complete surrender to the will of God, whatever that may be for our individual existence. Have we forgotten the God that we serve? The one that said to Joshua, after the death of Moses, as he took over the leadership of Israel, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Life often boils down to a choice between two things; ourselves or God. Worship the safety and security of ourselves, or worship God? Live fearfully, or find boldness in The King? Sin or Righteousness? Death or Life?

The choice is yours. You can live the life that most will; one void of excitement and surrounded by comfort, or you can lay it all aside, choosing courageous action for the Gospel. You can become part of the fraternity of men and women that have chosen to live life as the “awestruck adventure” that it is meant to be.

A “Fearless” Conclusion

Today, I finished reading Max Lucado’s book, “Fearless”. First of all, I highly recommend his book to absolutely anyone. It has surely opened my eyes to the incredible amount of fear in our world and renewed my mind according to God’s will, regarding what it is that I should fear, and what it is that I should not. If you are interested at all in what I pondered this afternoon, as I began to draw a few conclusions from what I had read and what I felt God was attempting to teach me, then I encourage you to take a few minutes to read the following journal entry that I ended up writing as a result…

Fear has a way of setting the world on fire; men and women hungrily eat up tidbits of dreadful news through every avenue of media they can. I’ve witnessed this with motherly figures in my life. Women that have positions in which they have nurtured and matured me throughout the years and whom I certainly love. They watch hours of Oprah, Dr. Phil, Dateline, 20/20, and other shows that will remind them of the dangers of the world. It’s like a sick addiction where scary news must be read, shared with others, and fret over, while good news is quickly forgotten.

Forgetting seems to be a common issue that Christians deal with. God constantly reminds us to remember throughout the course of Scripture. Ministry leaders must remind us frequently that God is still there and He still cares. Christians, we have to remember. If we forget who our God is, then who will tell this broken and depraved world that there is indeed someone who can save them!?!?! God is here! Our Savior has come and will surely be coming back.

The old idiom, “you are what you eat,” can be taken quite literally. We will become whatever it is that we fill ourselves up with. If you feed on the fear that media wants to feed you, then you will be fearful. If you read magazines that tell you to worry about the shape and size of your body, then you will care far too much about your looks and potentially become critical of others. If you sip from the sex-crazed goblet of romance novels, pornography, and sensuality in general, then you will indeed become a sexually immoral being.

What if we began to fill ourselves up with the words of God? He says to us, “Be strong and courageous”, “do not fear”, and reminds us that we have “not yet resisted sin to the point of shedding blood”. If you want the world to change, then change it; one broken heart at a time…starting with yours. Yes, even your heart needs healing and indeed our minds need to be renewed. If you fill yourselves up with God’s Word and His Spirit, then you will surely become more and more Christ-like each day and the people in your life NEED Jesus’ love. Let’s face it, you and I are not capable of loving others to the degree that they need to be loved, especially if we are not filling our cups to overflowing with His gracious, perfect, and merciful love on a daily basis.

Ready for the bottom line? God is God. If one truly reveres (respectfully fears) God, then all other fears cease and courage is born. Max Lucado stated, “Courage is fear that has said its’ prayers.” How incredibly true! “When God is fully revealed to us and we ‘get it’, then we experience the conversion of our fear…’Fear of the Lord’ is the deeply sane recognition that we are not God.” At the bottom of the same page, Lucado writes, “A big God translates into big courage. A small view of God generates no courage.”

Imagine a country filled with men that actually feared God…Imagine what they would be capable of under the direction of the Holy Spirit…Imagine how much your life would differ if you concluded to live a life that is free from the fears of this world, but maintained a healthy dose of the sobering fear of the LORD. Imagine…how friendships would be deepened, marriages restored, families brought together, nations united. The imagination is a powerful tool and a beautiful gift that God has given us. Anyone tired of simply imagining? Who is ready to make their wildest, Christ-centered dreams a reality?

It would appear that Max Lucado shares my love for coffee, as at the end of his chapter, “Caffeinated Life”, he writes, “Eternal glory. I’d like a large cup, please. ‘One venti-sized serving of endless joy in the presence of God. Go heavy on the wonder, and cut all the heartache.’ Go ahead and request it. The Barista is still brewing. For all you know, it could be the next cup you drink.” Christians, it is time to walk away from the paralysis of fear. It is time to truly live. “Real courage embraces the twin realities of current difficulty and ultimate triumph. Yes, life stinks. But it won’t forever. As one of my friends likes to say, “Everything will work out in the end. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end.” (Max Lucado) Lay down your pride, O Christian, fall on your face before the LORD, admit that you are not adequate for the task as your forefathers have (even Jesus relied on prayer, do you think yourselves to be more capable than He?), ask Him for His blessing, and when He touches you, lifts you up, and instructs you to live according to His purpose, free from fear…then do just that. Live obediently.

Continuing the Fight,

Justin

Freedom from Fear

The definition of fear as defined on Dictionary.com is “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined…” What scares you the most? Are you someone who is afraid of what the future brings? Wonder where the money for your next tuition or housing bill will come from?

Most of the world does, we have a natural fear of the unknown, one of my biggest fears is being in the dark alone. Followed secondly by the creepy-crawly things of the earth such as spiders, snakes, and ever so ugly opossum! On a more personal note, one of my fears for the past couple of years is that I am not good enough to meet the expectations of a future spouse, or to win the approval of my peers. But, what good does fear do?

Fear of the unknown and fear of abandonment are crippling young believers across the world! This is not something to turn a blind eye to…I’ve watched friend after friend turn away from the Lord in order to chase after the falsified pleasures of this world. Whether they find the “fulfillment” they’re searching for in sex, alcohol, drugs, lust-filled media, the empty words of man, etc., they are all searching for acceptance. They stare at the ceiling at night wondering, “What is the purpose of it all?”, “Who truly loves me?”, “What is wrong with me?” Now, I’ve placed the word fulfillment in sarcastic quotations above, simply because if you ever ask any of these people and they give you a genuine answer…they’re never fully satisfied. They crave more…

Our fear is toxic, it poisons the blood in our veins and propels us towards decisions that leave us unsatisfied and unhappy with our lives. We keep our eyes focused on ourselves and focus on all of the faults we have, rather than the blessings the Lord has provided us with! We choose a heart of pessimism that drags down the spirits of those around us and fight for our pride, causing quarrels among close friends.

The good news…I’ve found the cure! Of course others have before me, but I, Justin Meyer, have rediscovered the cure to fear. Perhaps I should share with you all what that cure is…

The cure is simply this…turning your eyes away from yourself and towards The Heavenly Father! For “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) First of all, Jesus Christ bore YOUR sins and MINE on that tree…nails were driven into the palms of His hands, a crown of thorns was placed on His head, and as streams of blood poured down His body…they hung Him there on that cross, suffocating Him…until death. (PRAISE THE LORD HE ROSE AGAIN 3 DAYS LATER)

There is NO ONE ELSE, no other thing, no earthly treasure that I would rather have or live for than THIS God. The God of Jacob, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Messiah…”The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”(Psalm 18:2)

Then, there is the fact pursuing the Lord is the most incredibly exhilarating thing you can possibly do with your life! Following Him takes your eyes aways from your selfish desires, effectively helping you conquer sin and giving your life a purpose that is far beyond yourself. Look at what Jesus has to say about His ability to satisfy in John 4:13-14, “Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Well world, I’ve written to you about the cure to fear and the crippling effects it can have on you and your soul. So I beg you brothers and sisters to fall to your knees in prayer to the Most High God and to ask Him to fill your soul with living waters, that can overflow in your life like a living spring! Please give the Lord your life, and submit yourself to His will, resting in your place as His son or daughter!

I leave you with this poem I wrote a few nights ago and hope that it soon becomes the prayer of your hearts, as you look into continually giving your lives ENTIRELY to the Lord!

My Father

Father…You are so Majestic,

So Beautiful and Worthy,

Father you came as a servant,

Willing to bless me…

And Daddy, I’m so unholy,

Yet You choose to mold me.

You rescue me from disgrace,

Even though I sin, spitting in your face…

So Father take me and break me,

At my core, firmly shake me.

My peers wanna be shinin’ with that “ice”

But Father I wanna shine like Christ!

Make me suffer if you must,

Until I’ve given you my trust.

Humble me, return me to the dust.

For You’re the Superstar! “I’m just a trail of star-dust.”

Thanks again for callin me your child,

Now I’m the heir to somethin’ WILD!!!

Romans 8:16-17, “16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”