Thoughts On The Greatness Within

A friend of mine turned me on to Kris Vallotton’s Podcast and I listened to the recent episode of “The Greatness Within” and it was mind-blowing. I highly recommend it as a great listen on this Friday morning.

He speaks of an exercise that he did with his youth-group at a retreat. Having the students take ten minutes to write down what they would do if they were ten times bolder. At the end of the ten minutes, he said “If you’ve written anything down at all, then you’ve allowed fear to shrink you.”

I nearly fell out of my chair, thinking about the things that I would potentially write about or speak on if I were just ten times bolder in my faith and in my walk with Christ during my daily life at work, at home, with friends in coffee-shops and bars. He’s right, if I’m limiting myself due to “norms” then I’ve allowed fear to shrink me and I don’t really think of God as all that big and capable.

Another great point that Kris makes is the sort of “false humility” that can be found within the church. We all act as if we are prideful we will steal the glory from God. Are you really that big? Can you really steal the glory from God – the one who created you? If your son were to score the winning touchdown for the Kansas City Chiefs, would you be saddened? Would your glory be stolen? More than likely, you’d be beaming with pride – his success is your success! Just like the downfalls of children can cause the mourning of parents. He takes on both the glory and the pain of His children, just as my parents do. If I get a promotion at work, they’re thrilled! If I make a poor life decision and am suffering the consequences, their hearts and prayers are with me.

All of this got me to thinking…how are we limiting ourselves?

This was literally the first podcast I’ve ever listened to by Kris Vallotton but I’m sure that I will be back for more. He went on to share stories of how the anointing of Christ can come on us when he gives us a new name.

No longer fearful and timid, but strong and courageous.

But like Saul in the Bible when he was hiding from his anointing as King, there can be a trial – a turbulent like moment where your kingdom is threatened and suddenly the Spirit of the Lord comes upon you – it’s time to live up to your name. “Where there is the Lamb, the Lion lives also.” He then unites his people to defend their countryside and lives up to his new name as King.

How powerful is that? Sure, Jesus was the Lamb led to slaughter, to die for the sins of His People, but three days later He was The Lion, overcoming death with ferocious power.

How about when He protected His Father’s house (the temple) and overthrew tables? There was a righteous anger that sought justice for His Children. I think of the feeling I get when I hear a story of how someone has hurt the feelings of my wife or sister. Rarely an individual that resorts to violence, there is an immediate balling of fists and raise in blood-pressure as I prepare to go to battle for her. Being the eldest of five, I took on the role of a third-parent whether the family liked it or not – it’s hard to raise a bunch of capable kids and babies at the same time, as my Mom was in the spot of doing. So I’d do a lot of “babysitting” and keeping the flock safe, hence the “affectionate” nickname of “Father Meyer” from friends who didn’t understand my cautious mentality.

If we are heirs to the throne and royalty is our brother that went to Calvary on our behalf, then are we not kings and queens in waiting as well? Are we not called to something greater than ourselves?

There once was a time for childish games, but that season has passed away and He is making all things new. “So while you may be standing in the midst of a difficult life-struggle and you believe you are in the valley of the shadow of death, perhaps you are just in the belly of the whale as Jonah was”, Kris says. He’s called you to Nineveh but you don’t want to go. Well, guess what, if God calls you somewhere…you’re either going now, or you’re going after a crazy storm throws you overboard and the whale of life swallows you up and spits you back out, humbly where you were called to go in the first place. 

Unfortunately, I think most of us are like Jonah. We don’t want to listen the first time. We’re too busy looking at our phones, balking at spiritual authority, and having a good time. We forget to listen for and cherish the Lord’s voice and calling. Our ears are filled with earphones so that we cannot hear His still, small whisper. And then we find ourselves surprised that suddenly our sin’s consequences have given birth to trial.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…we will never outrun the laws of God’s Great Economy. We will always reap what we sow. Sure you can be lazy and let the fields go for a little while and the crops may still thrive. But stay lazy long enough and the weeds will strangle the crops and you’ll be forced to plow the fields all over again.

Stand your ground. Clean out your ears. Realize that you’re not that big, but you’re not that small either. It’s time to make something out of yourself, because God doesn’t make useless things. He hasn’t called you to live in addiction, depression, isolation, and sadness. He’s called you to live in the land of milk and honey, to take part in the His Kingdom’s riches and to live with joy, thankfulness, gratitude, and peace on your hearts.

It’s time for you and I to unlock these powerful truths and to unleash the greatness within.

Here is a link to the podcast referenced for your listening ears: Bethel Podcast – Kris Vallotton

the greatness within

Mustache Manifesto

It all started a few weeks ago. I began sharing with Allie my impulse to shave my beard – it was bothering me; I wanted a clean face for a little while again. But for whatever reason I just didn’t do it. Then Saturday came.

I had just gotten off work and eaten dinner with my wife and the thought crossed my mind again and I spoke it out loud – “Then, let’s do it!” she said excitedly. “Why keep talking about it? If you want to shave your beard, just do it.”

The matter was resolved. I walked up the stairs and began trimming my beard. If only that were the truth.

Instead, I spent the next hour or two agonizing over whether or not I should do it. What would people think? Would my friends and family accept me? Would she still find me attractive and desirable if I “looked 17 again” as some say when they’re clean-shaven in their 20s? What if coworkers made fun of me and customers found me less trustworthy?

So much identity wrapped up in some hair – the mild brownish-red scruff that I had sported since Jake & Co. had convinced me to grow a beard in college. It was important. It proved as it were that I was a man. It covered up (I thought) my double-chin and mildly handsome face. As I thought about it, it was almost as if I were hiding my true self behind a wall of rebellious manhood.

And I thought about my post-college years (pre-Allie) and the “man” I tried to prove I was. Overzealous rhetoric, aggressively flirtatious, and a ridiculous amount of pseudo-charm that was the Covergirl Makeup associated with an unstable amount of insecurity.

That was it. It was time to do it. To cut away the past. Wipe away the greasy strands and wispy past. To feel clean again – even if just for a brief season. (It’s highly likely the beard will return as soon as the weather cools again. But it’ll be because I want it, not because I need it.)

So it happened. Failing miserably with a razor at first and realizing I’d have to mega-trim the beard before using a razor to clear the rest. “Except for, keep the stash!” said Allie, cheerily – always finding a way to bring an extra dose of joy into the already silliest of occasions. And so I did. Because, why not?

A day later, I’d convinced my brother Tyler that lives with us to do it too. And I’m still working on convincing Jordan to bring his back. But all in good fun and just for the sake of laughs (I mean, how great would a Meyer Bros Mustache Trio be?!?!). Because I’ve already taken life seriously enough for the three of us.

So friends, what are you doing to cover up your heart and the parts of yourself that you don’t want to face? Maybe it’s as simple as shaving the beard and starting over, or maybe it’s a little more complicated than that – some poisonous relationship to flee from, an addiction to leave behind, or an over-reliance on independence to the point of isolation – but whatever it is that is trapping you from being fully the man or woman the Lord is calling out of you – rid yourself of it as quickly as possible.

My identity is in the Lord, as a Christian man, husband, brother, friend, son, and puppy-daddy.  I don’t need anything else to prove who I am.

(Yes….I know….I got a whole blog post out of shaving my beard. Silly? Sure. But it’s also unapologetically who God designed me to be. Now Harvey needs someone to play fetch with, so I better go!)

ron swanson

#NoFilter – Love Yourself

Let’s talk about filters. I can’t remember the last time I posted a picture on Instagram or Snapchat or any form of social-media that didn’t have a filter. I thought about this as Allie and I were having a good time with different filters on Snapchat in Starbucks. It was all innocent fun, but I had this thought about filters just then. It’s interesting that we don’t necessarily want to see the #NoFilter version of ourselves. Not that we don’t. But just that we don’t necessarily want to face it, if that makes sense?

I think we do similar forms of filtering on Twitter and Facebook. Perhaps we tweet about that jerk-face that cut us off in traffic on Twitter haphazardly and then find ourselves deleting it later and replacing it with a Bible verse about unconditional love later that afternoon. Because we don’t want to be seen as an angry person. So we post on Facebook when we graduate from college or get that next promotion, but (unless you’re me) avoid being publicly downcast. Or perhaps on more relatable terms – we become recluses from society when we’ve gained that extra five pounds or are wrestling with depression. We’d rather people just saw us during the triumphs.

But what would the #NoFilter version of ourselves look like? Let’s take body-image out of the equation. You look the way you dream of yourself looking. You’re now officially Ryan Gosling or Rachel McAdams. What would the #NoFilter version of our hearts look like? Our personalities? Our personas? Our internal conversations and dialogue?

“Don’t play yourself,” DJ Khaled says all the time on his Snapchat. I don’t think DJ Khaled is any sort of life-advice guru per se – I just find his posts to be hilarious. But he’s got a point here. I think we play ourselves too much. We filter ourselves to the point that we’re not even sure who we are.

Who are we really?

So you’re the partier on Saturday, the worshiper on Sunday morning, in debauchery on Sunday night, in F-This mode on Monday, and an overcoming go-getter on Tuesday. So, which one is it? Who are you really?

Isn’t that what everyone wants to know? Isn’t it irritating when people are one thing one moment and another the next? Don’t you sort of want to punch the mirror when you’re that person? (Everyone’s been there, too. Don’t say, “That’s not me.”)

I hate the back-and-forth, figuring-ourselves-out, wondering-what-to-do version of ourselves. I’m a perfectionist. I want the “this is it” finished product, right here, right now, yesterday.

But what if we took the filters off? And we faced the mirror of our minds? What if we took the time to write down our emotions and feelings and endure them? You see – I like to run. Not really. I hate physically running. But metaphorically, I love to run. It’s easier to run and keep moving and go onto the next thing than to focus on the now.

#NoFilter – It’s easier to run from God than it is to sit there and listen to him. You know those moments where it’s suddenly too quiet? You’re sitting there in your bedroom, or conversation with your loved ones has died down, and suddenly you can feel the Spirit (or your conscious – whatever you want to call it) speaking to you. It’s saying gentle things. Little reminders. “Hey man, maybe you shouldn’t have brushed your sister’s request off like it was nothing.” “Yeah, yeah, okay Jesus, I get it.” And then you just move on. It’d be an interesting world to start listening to that voice. An even more interesting world to not run from it. Miraculous, if we invited it in.

Typically, I start feeling those gentle nudges. My brain and soul kicking into a highly engaged state, and it scares me. Crap – what’s God going to ask of me this time? I’d rather not find out. I reach for my headphones, play some Ben Rector, and immediately surf the nothingness of Facebook-Land trying to find a distraction from the obvious call. “Sorry God, I don’t have any reception here tonight. Maybe another time.” And then I place my phone on Do Not Disturb and go to sleep.

So, what would happen if we listened?

#NoFilter – I find faith to be hard to find sometimes. It’s not always easily accessible. But I feel hopeless without it. God has to be real. There has to be power in prayer. I’ve seen people healed, abundant provision occur, spirits overcome, darkness turned to light. But when you’re coming from a place of hurt and skepticism it’s incredibly difficult to step back out there into that circle of trust, to be in relationship with Jesus again.

To wrap things up – let’s drop the filters. And for the love of God, the Church, His people, and others – let’s love ourselves a little bit more. Grace is not just for others. Grace is for you and me. And sometimes, we have to extend it to ourselves. You may have failed, but you are not a failure. You may have fallen, but you are not incapable of getting back up. You may have been angry, but you are not “just an angry person.”

Love God. Love Others. And for the benefit of everyone involved, Love Yourself.

nofilter

Embracing God’s Grace

Last week, I talked about how seeing my sister’s dance-recital was awesome as it generated some life revelations. One of those was that “life is messy” and I believe the last couple weeks have really solidified that truth in my heart. I’m a perfectionist so I really hate when I’m not perfect in any given situation and I very much dislike when something doesn’t go according to my carefully laid out plan.

As a teenager, I’d ask my friends what we were going to be doing next. “So what’s happening after that? Will such-and-such pretty thing be there as well? Etc.” I wanted to map life out and get it right, every time. But sometimes, we don’t get it right. Sometimes, we mess up. Other times, others mess up and we fall with them.

Our mutual need for grace is what makes us human – our choice to love or become bitter – what either sets us apart from the world or makes us just like it. It’s a broken system, a painful place with a lot of darkness. And we all only have so much light.

I asked my church to pray for me this week. I asked them to pray for my heart to be filled with hope and life again. I can’t say that prayer has been fully answered, but I can say that I have a gentler, less cynical perspective to the world we live in.

Something that I continually learn is that relationships are hard. I’m deeply relational and and quite emotional and sometimes rather easily swayed. I want badly to fit in with everyone, all the time. While also feeling the tension and desire to stand out and be set apart and respected. It’s an interesting paradox – to be respected,  I must become better than I am. To be human and in relationships, I must love myself as I am and be okay with where I’m at, so that fruit can grow without the crippling weight of crushed expectations and unrealistic dreams.

It’d be nice if I made great decisions every day and if I were 1,000% disciplined. If what I read from Charles Duhigg’s books on The Power Of Habit and on Productivity would lead to immediately gratifying results and wholehearted lifestyle changes. But it’s not that simple – it’s not that easy.

It’d be great if my friends always understood what I was trying to say if I disagreed with them. And it’d be even greater if we always believed and valued the same things, having the same dreams, working and living in the same places; but it just isn’t that simple.

And what if family could always get along? What if my brothers didn’t make dumb decisions and my sisters were more engaged and my parents were less worried? What if I wasn’t so stuck and so naturally focused on self and not on how to best serve and love others, as a way to positively distract myself from shortcomings in order to find my strengths?

What if, can be a great question. And it’s okay to question life – it’s okay to wrestle – it’s okay to struggle. But we can’t forever live in a land of hypotheticals. At some point, we have to engage others. We have to let our hearts bleed. We have to cry. We have to disagree. We have to push and pull and press. But most of all, we have to be.

We have to be there. We have to be present. We have to live. Despite fear, pain, the past, rejection, anxiety, and all of the “tomorrow” worries of life, we have to love.

We need one another. Together, we are better. Together, we can. Separated, we fall.

If we can’t learn to love ourselves where we are at, then how can we convince others that we love them where they are at? If Jesus is not enough for us now, then how will He be enough for them then?

Why are we so afraid to get dirty? So afraid of failure that we don’t even try?

Why do we think that we are not enough because of our past – and then decide to stay there because it’s what we know – it’s who we’ve been and therefore who we are? How can we not realize that’s simply not true? Did God not call us to something greater; did our friends not speak more fruit into our lives than that?

I’ve got more questions than answers; more potential for growth than credentialed success. But I’m ready to grow. I’m ready to learn. I’m ready to engage the world around with me with my ideas. And I’m praying that soon enough I’ll be okay with the idea of failure, because at least I’ll have tried. And I’ll be stronger for it; I’ll see that it’s possible to stand up again.

Perhaps it’s  not so much about the accolades and the goal of “finding yourself”, as much as it is about the journey, and about loving and being in relationship with others. Perhaps part of growing up is learning to love others despite their crap. And to love yourself, despite yours.

So welcome to my spiritual renaissance – to my heart’s journey toward growing up. To my newfound hatred for passivity and my new goal of confronting issues head-on, rather than letting them develop into seeds of bitterness and regret.

This is just a taste of what’s to come. I’m confident there will be so much more.

The night is darkest just before the dawn.

But the dawn is coming. The dawn will come.

And with the dawn there will be light. And light always overwhelms the darkness.

I’ve read the end of the book and Light wins.

So this week (and hopefully onward), I’m Embracing God’s Grace. Will you?

I’m Justin, Here I Stand

Heart’s in a panic;

Beating quickly;

Thump, thump; they’re voting Trump.

Don’t get political;

Turns hypocritical.

Temper your opinions;

You are just a minion.

 

No confidence,

Lack competence.
And these are the lies,

That catch me by surprise.

 

Because really, if you knew me.

You’d see the mirage right through me.

 

Bravery and intellect,

Inquisitive, that is correct.

I’m smart and unapologetic;

Communicate without the rhetoric.

 

More passionate than Romeo;

Come to me and your troubles go;

A counselor to and fro;

Not afraid to go deep;

It’s in the shallow-end, I’d likely sink.

 

So what causes me to come and drink?

These lies from the bitter sink.

 

A broken mirror I see into,

Wondering what to do.

How to become the better me,

Because me isn’t enough,

But he’d be – he’d be tough.

 

Through and through, a winner.

Respectable, with accolades,

A house with lots of shade,

Married and pretty great;

Crises averted and problems dissolved,

Justin – Evolved.

 

But I am what I am,

Sam I am.

 

An overcomer,

Not a bummer.

 

Strong and relational,

Rarely confrontational.

 

Come to think of it,

I like who I am.

I’ll write my name in this sand;

I’m Justin, here I stand.

 

#ComeTogether

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The Church must come together before it is sent. Troops assemble before going into battle. The cause of the lone-ranger dies when he does, but the legacy of brothers lives on. If your “ministry” were to entirely collapse without you, then it’s not healthily organized. Admit your need for others, call out their gifts, and bring them together around you.

In the corporate world, an organization/company is only as great as its’ worker-bees. The CEO may dress as flashily as s/he likes, give elaborate speeches, and make tactfully profitable decisions, but the product’s quality is up to the production team.

We are a prideful people. Humility is necessary, if we are to truly advance the Kingdom. It requires that we admit our dependence on the LORD, and our need for the support of other brothers and sisters.

People love to be acknowledged, and to feel needed. In some ways, it is a form of validation, as we search for our identity, and place in this world. I remember interning for the church I grew up in at the age of nineteen, and I loved that the youth depended on me for their spiritual guidance and for good teaching on Sunday. It fulfilled me.

The issue lies therein that previous statement. We are too easily satisfied, or fulfilled, by things that matter so much less than the Father’s genuine love for us. It is of utmost importance to Father God that you are affirmed, called by your rightful name, and called out into the service of His Church with the gifting He has blessed you with. If I were to speculate, I would think that sometimes He finds our attempts to enamor ourselves with counterfeit validation to be very, very sad, and that He very much wishes we would get down on our knees and cry out to Him for His words for us.

Humbling yourself before God is the first step – humbling yourself before me men, the second.

An organization needs those that are skilled at writing to express its’ intention, and those with brute strength to build, serve, and protect, and still others to wrestle with varying levels of ideology and to petition on its behalf. You can have a very gifted individual – one even that has the gift of leadership, but his purpose is fruitless without others coming together around him. One is not the “CEO of Me”. That’s ridiculous. But one may be the pastor of a body of believers, or an active member of a congregation, and its’ purposes may very well be carried out by faithful men and women.

Men and women of the faith, let’s come together. Set aside personal agendas and spiritual-resume polishing and “get down to the nitty-gritty” as Nacho Libre would say. Find strength and healing for your past in the fellowship of believers – pray together for the Spirit to impact and affirm each and every member’s heart. A set of playing-cards is much more valuable if all of the necessary cards are present and not torn. In the same way, the Church is much more a force to reckoned with, if all of its’ members are actively present, and have their hearts healed – souls affirmed by the Living God – and internal fabric mended.

All-Star NBA players would not be All-Stars if their teammates had not been there to “assist” them. Sometimes, the assist is more valuable than the game-winning three-pointer, as multiple assists lead to multiple wins, and thus, the overall betterment of the team. The team can reach the playoffs, but the player cannot do so alone.

Enough analogies. You get the idea.

Come together.

A Totally Random Post

Yo, let’s drop the formalities and the proper writing etiquette. Basically, I have a few random things that I would like to share with you. Ready, set, sharing…

My friend and brother in Christ, Hip Hop Theologian, just released a spoken-word piece that is part of a Spoken Word Challenge. The main premise is that perfection is not flawlessness; it’s a beautiful, inquisitive, bold work of art. Please take a moment to view the video: 

Amazing truth, right? Please take a moment right now to share that in your social-networks and perpetuate the gold-nuggets of wisdom that Hip Hop Theologian speaks from the heart. Also, anyone else think that mustache is just absolutely fantastic?!?! 

Moving onward…I, dear friends, covet your prayers during this incredibly uncertain time that I am in. As a 23 year-old, college-graduate, attempting to find a job in the current market, I am distraught. Please pray for the LORD’s provision as bills start to pile up in the upcoming months, as I become financially responsible for my expenses and the debt incurred during my education, etc. Also, pray that I would not allow money and work to become my god, but rather, I would still use money as a tool to glorify the LORD, whether it be tithing, giving to someone in need, or honoring Him by strategically paying off debts quickly; all of which I hope to do.

Now, it’s story-time! (I told you this was “A Totally Random Post”) Alright, so you know how in modern-day churches, the worship starts and everyone stands awkwardly with their hands at their sides and nervously sings, hoping that no one notices they are out-of-tune (well, I am anyways)? Great, glad you agree. Well, I was checking out a church in KC called Redeemer and these two little girls, probably around the age of 4 or 5 were in the front just dancing. It was a beautiful, joyous sight. Seriously. I mean, when was the last time you felt free enough to just dance? These girls didn’t have a care in the world and were free to be who they were; fun, young, innocent, and joy-filled.

When the sermon began and everyone sat down, I quickly grabbed my journal, not wanting to forget that moment. Here is what I wrote:

“Children have a special freedom, a present innocence and purity; at ease with their world, in the safety of their father’s presence, they can be all that they are, reserving and withholding no aspect of who they are. If we were to solidify our identity in being children of God, perhaps we could experience once again this beautiful freedom, able to wholly be all that we are meant to be.” (J. Meyer, 6/2/13)

It always goes back to identity, doesn’t it? I can practically hear the Holy Spirit screaming, “Stop worrying so much about your flaws and remember all that I’ve already given you! Stop listening to satan’s mention of what you are not and remember what you are!” And what are? We’re children, heirs to the throne, serving The King, and all He wants for us is our very best; He desires to raise us up to be warriors, fighting for truth.

A warrior I shall be. I spend time feverishly praying now that you would be, too.

Pressing Forward,

Justin Meyer