Darkness Better Run And Hide

I’m not sure that I could pinpoint the exact moment when I became more aware of the world spiritually but I’m aware now. As I write this, I feel like the crazed lunatic that I used to judge thinking, “They must be some sort of weird charismatic Christian for believing in spiritual warfare, and that they’re ‘under attack’.” But as someone who’s been going through a sort of spiritual renaissance for the last couple years – with a sober mind and heart, I can tell you that there are forces at work beyond what the eye can see.

Allie and I watched a documentary last night on Hulu about the Menendez Brothers. It was a horrific account of their trial for murdering their own parents and the defense was set up around the fact that one of the sons had been sexually abused by the father. On Facebook earlier, I came across post after post filled with hate and despair in relation to homosexuality, gun-control, and the immorality of others and the dark pain it’s left behind.

As I watched, read, and took in these stories and accounts from others it was almost as if I was being smothered – my chest felt heavier, the world seemed grey (even though yesterday was relatively beautiful), and hope seemed light-years away. A pen could drop and we’d hear it, the faint sighs of our shallow, defeated breaths filling the living room. It was then I realized that we had to pray.

We turned to God and asked Him to be protect us from this darkness, to send his angels to watch over us, to heal our hearts in the areas that they’ve been broken, and to help us to live lives filled with joy and victory – that our season of feeling stretched, exhausted, and smothered would be taken from us. Then we had conversations with some other friends and heard about the heaviness in their lives and the demons were back, ready to whisper lies in our ears that it was only a matter of time before our hearts and souls would be crushed by darkness too.

My wife shared with me this morning that she couldn’t sleep very well last night. Kept awake 1-3AM with the spirit of fear and darkness bearing down on her. And in a text-message she just shared with me, “I kept praying and singing worship songs in my head last night while I was awake to try and combat it.” After insisting she wake me up in the future so I can sing, pray, and cry with her, I told her that’s probably one of the most attractive things she’s ever told me about herself. She’s a fiercely beautiful woman with such a strong heart, refusing to give in to darkness no matter what comes our way.

She’s supportive of my writing and gets excited when I share my heart with the world; she prays for me when I ask her to and even when I don’t; she does the silly things I ask her to do like make homemade granola and she doesn’t complain about it. When I met Allie in October, 2015 I was lost to the ways of this world – womanizing, drinking too much, and had given up on Jesus if we’re being honest. I tell her often that she’s always been Jesus in the flesh for me. She’s called me back home. My heart has been softened to His love again and she’d attest to the heart and life change that has occurred since. Now, when I encourage, pray for, and write letters/blogs I am a different man, one that is heavily influenced by the Lord.

As I study Psalms and see David’s heart – open, honest, vulnerable, outspoken, fearful and fearless in the same breath (Week 2 of our study will be published tomorrow or Wednesday, FYI) I cannot help but see myself. David had some appalling weaknesses and a volatile spirit and yet he writes 150 chapters of the Bible with his own pen and is credited as the man after God’s heart.

Genuinely pursuing a relationship with God was never promised to be easy, but it’s the most powerful relationship in the universe. Marriage was never meant to be easy, but it’s the most rewarding relationship you’ll ever have – and it’s designed as a mirror image of what our Father in Heaven’s love is like for us. People are broken and come from hurtful backgrounds – they have hurts, hangups, and habits that were designed to be healed in a loving community but that’s made difficult when society thrashes back with hate, judgement, and vengeance. And start genuinely pursuing God and you better believe a legion of demons will be heading your way. Satan hates when someone else is revived by the Light. We must call on the Lord and FIGHT BACK. We cannot simply shrink back into the corner of the room and allow darkness to consume us. We must sing, cry, dance, shout, and declare victory over darkness. It has no place here! Satan has no authority over me or you or anyone else – unless we give it to Him.

The words we speak over ourselves are powerful. The Lord brought the world into existence with his words and He’s created us in His image. More often than not, we prophecy our own demise. “I’m fat” and so we stay fat. “I’m broke” and so we stay broke. “I have an addictive personality” and so we stay addicted. What if we broke that cycle and said, “I’m a fighter” and so we fought. “I’m handsome” and so we embraced our positive physical attributes and worked on our weaknesses. “I’m rich” and so we spent more time thinking about what we have, rather than what we don’t – and no longer consumed by a spirit of lack, ended up with more than we could have asked for or imagined.

Stop allowing Satan to use your own words against you. Make amends. Apologize, forgive, and move forward. We can consume our minds with our history or we can became an active part of His Story.

I am redeemed, recovered, renewed. I am bold, confident, awakened. I am alive, well, and strong. I am honest, integral, and through with running from God.

I am a man after God’s heart. A man in pursuit of his wife alone. I called to ministry and to writing – to encouraging without relent.

Satan hates me and will continue to send his deceptive, horrific, dark, deadly lies my way and I will fight him. And in Jesus, I will win.

“I have good news,” I told Allie, “I’ve read the Bible and Light wins. Darkness better run and hide.”

run and hide

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.

gold

The D-Word: Doubt

Lacking inspiration for whatever reason this morning, I posted on some social-media outlets asking for a topic to write about. The first topic given to me was “Doubt.” So here we go, friends. I’m going to talk with you about The D-Word: Doubt.

Doubt is a Christian cuss-word. Let’s face it. And because it’s a “cuss-word” we do everything we have to do to distance ourselves form its reality. I’m not really doubting, I’m “discovering myself.”  I’m not isolated, I just “need some room to breathe.” You get the idea. It’s easier to “take a break” from community than it is to press in and power through the numbness of mixed emotions.

I’ve seen doubt rear its head in my life numerous times. It doesn’t always have to do with faith, although thats where it originates. When we doubt God, we doubt His promises and there is therefore now no nope. Praise Jesus that’s a lie.

I can doubt that I have the ability to overcome – to overcome health and fitness issues, to overcome dependencies, to overcome the character-flaws of being selfish as the oldest of 5 that’s always found a way to get what he wants.

I can doubt that other’s love me. I can doubt that they have my best interest in mind. Once I begin to doubt like this, I begin to doubt my lovability. What if I’m not likable enough? What if they see me, exposed, for what I am, and I’m not enough? What if I don’t measure up?

And then, I’ll begin to doubt myself. I’m not really as strong as some have told me I am. I’m not really creative and confident and outgoing. I could never find a way to legitimately better myself. I’m stuck. Incapable. Lacking. (All lies. I’m taking you inside my mind – trying to relate- flush out the toxins of doubt and present them to you for what they are. They’re poisons straight from the underworld, designed to stop us in our trucks – to make us ineffective witnesses – to bring Black Death to our souls.)

Where The D-Word starts to take place is in our hearts. At some point, someone wounded us. They saw us for what we were and decided that we were not enough. A parent decided that we disappointed them. A friend chose to seek their flesh’s desire and put a woman before us. A woman decided we weren’t wild enough at heart. And we forgot that Jesus died on the Cross for us, because He wanted to save us. Coming not to condemn the world, but to save it. We forgot that He found us worthy and lovely, DESPITE. Despite our ugly sinfulness and predisposition to chase desire without considering consequence.

The reality is we’ve all struggled with doubt and we’re all going to. You are not alone, dear friend. You are not unworthy. You are strong, valiant, a fighter – you are still alive. There is still hope. You can still persevere. If you are not engaged, you can re-engage. If you are not winning, you can. Just means you’ll have to train.

But it’s not about training harder or being better. It’s about trusting. It’s about being. It’s about recognizing who you are – what you lack and what you have – taking a deep breath, going to God and saying, “Without you, I have nothing. Please fill in my gaps. Please give me the strength to overcome today. Please teach me to love her. Show me how to put the collective before the individual. Rid me of darkness and fill me with Light. Teach me to trust you tonight.”

Right There With You,

Justin Meyer

doubt

Jailbreak

Never thought I’d escape,

Walls so thick; shackles and gates.

Fears had its hand on me,

Kept me from traveling.

But now I’m unraveling.
Freedom’s mirages,

Despair so bottomless.

Then I got caught up in this,

Forgot I’m an optimist.
Broken hearts shatter,

Millions of pieces; all of which matter.

Yet they’re separated,

Corroded, deteriorated.

Clean and sweep,

Fight and wheep.

You’ll never collect all the pieces,

That’s not where the peace is.
So insanity beckoned and I followed,

Called me in deeper until it swallowed.

All of the light within,

Where does this life begin?
I see it now – breaking through,

Streams of light, bold and true.

Like a sunburst through the clouds,

A peace comes down and surrounds.
I look down and there’s the key,

Pick it up and now I’m free,

Captive and prisoner to only me.
No more can this heart take,

Fists clenched and longing’s ache,

I’m running now – Jailbreak!
Hold me down and I’ll break free,

Can’t contain the fire in me.

Christmas Grace

The baby wasn’t the one that was helpless that night. We were.” – Louie Giglio.

Are there any truer words? Something comes with age – a certain understanding of the depth of the world’s struggles. Yes, I’m not 50 (shout-out to my parents about to have their 50th Birthdays), but I am nearing my 25th year on this earth. So I don’t get to play the youth/young-adult card anymore.  And I’ve learned much more than it may appear.

Have you ever walked into a coffee-shop or bar and seen the light gone from someone’s eyes? I have. In fact, I’ve been there – in that spot, where darkness has washed over and there seems to be no light in sight.

That’s the state of the world – in all of its drunken endeavors and pursuits, for more.

The thing is, until Jesus entered the equation, we were all helpless to that pursuit.

The “pursuit of happiness” was all that we had.

But now that He is, indeed, here. Our world collides with an awe-striking phenomenon called grace. Not just any world leader (King, President, Pope, etc.), but the King of Kings and LORD of Lords, entering the world in the form of a baby – a “helpless babe” and yet we are still the helpless ones.

We were helpless in our pursuits of better selves; helpless to addictions and the seeking out of immediately self-gratifying pleasure; helpless even to see the light.

So God sent a Helper.

The prophecies had been told and the Old Testament’s promises held onto dearly, but the world was losing hope. Little did they know that evening in Bethlehem that their prayers had been answered in the filth of a stable. I can barely drive past a farm on the outskirts of Olathe, KS without rolling up my window and holding my nose. But wise men and king’s men and others came far and wide to see this baby – in this barn.

And there was hope – so much hope – more hope than any present there had experienced in their lifetime. Prophecies could be fulfilled and prayers could be answered.

Joy filled the Heavens and angels lit up the skies. Heaven met earth. Light overwhelmed darkness. And death began to lose its sting.

On this day, I remember. On this day, you remember. Our minds are redirected to this precious gift. The gracious outreach from Heaven into the midst of our longing and directionless endeavor.

This Christmas, be still and know that He is God. Tomorrow, wake up grateful for immeasurable grace that you and I could be forgiven. More so than that – we could be redeemed.

There will be some of you (perhaps even myself) that struggle to find the Christmas Spirit and Light in the midst of an internal war. But together, we can find joy in the remembrance of renewed hope in something far more powerful than ourselves.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Christmas Grace

Renewed Life

O God, why must I be so hateful?

Destroyed by grief; debatin’ salvation

My heart is sinful and contrite

Wouldn’t recognize it in the darkness of night

My Light has been snuffed

Music no longer buffed.

Ya see, I’m chasin’ affection

But when it’s given, I’m deflectin’

Weazy (and many others) loves and encourages

But Satan’s here and discourages.

Have you ever been “the righteous one”

People believin’ you shine like The Son

But stunned and confused when ya run

From freedom freely given under the guise of fun?

Holy Spirit, reign in my heart, enlighten me

I thirst for when Father shall delight in me.

Shall I squander my inheritance,

And forget my heart’s heritage?

That You made it, You made me,

So why doesn’t Your love fully persuade me?

You see, I sit here brewin’

Not fully trustin’ the pot You’re stewin’.

O but God there’s no turnin’ back!

Andy Mineo is right; sin is whack!

Father, I give You permission

Whip my soul into submission

Illegitimate children are not disciplined

But I’m your son and should’ve listened!

Holy Spirit, renew this depraved mind

Capture lies, open my eyes, I’m blind!

Without You, I’m dead! With You, I’m ALIVE!!!

Give us our daily bread that our hearts may thrive!

Let’s return the old me to the grave,

You can free me from being depraved.

Shackles removed…party begins, a heavenly rave

To Your mission, righteousness, and glory, I’ll gladly be a slave!

My soul was dead and buried but then comes resurrection!

Let joy overflow as You give our hearts direction!

No longer subject to The Accuser’s painful strife,

I thank You so much Father, for renewed life.

The Soldier’s Call

Words can pierce the heart by aggression

Holding back the pain; our confession.

Keeping the smile on and the blue eyes bright

Wouldn’t ever want tears to see the light.

Because if you’re not strong; you’re weak,

No longer somethin’ the world will seek.

Some think you’re on a winning-streak

Reality is your soul’s grown meak.

They tell ya to dress it up; put on a bandage.

Do they even realize there’s permanent-damage?

Sure, the blood’s gone; you’ve been washed clean,

But the scar’s still there and your heart’s a crime-scene.

Evidence collected and suspect on trial;

Regardless of the “justice”; robbed of your smile.

You’re tormented by the Evil that dwells within

Satan’s waitin’ at the door seducin’ ya back to sin.

“You’re worthless, nothing, ugly, unfit,” he hisses

Somehow convinces you that you’re on trial in front of witnesses

But just before you thrown in the towel and say “I’m done,”

Jesus runs in and claims YOU as His son!…

“Lucifer…AWAY from him at once!” Christ thunders…

“Child, you’re worth my life, beautiful, and called to duty!”/ Satan shudders.

Words spoken by The Light extinguish darkness

Suddenly Satan’s been revealed as heartless.

Unable to be in the presence of Holiness

He slithers back to the dark hole-of-his.

Then God says,

“Son, I’ll win the War but your battle rages on,

Keep your eyes on me and meditate on my word

As you continue persevering, you’ll become bright as the Son

Darkness will be forced to flee from the light of the Sword!

My spirit dwells in your heart; keeping you upright

Now onward young soldier, you’ve been called to fight!”