Do Not Neglect Your Gift

I mentioned in my prior post regarding the surprise it was that marriage was both complex and beautiful and unexpectedly divine, by God’s design, that I would be sharing what I’m learning from reading the Bible in upcoming posts. So here goes nothing – it’s been a while, so excuse me if I’m rusty or fail to reveal Scripture in the proper context.

Let’s jump right in. 1 Timothy 1:11-15 drops a gender-roles in the church bomb that leaves everyone that reads it uncomfortable. One author wrote that verse 12 singlehandedly puts an end to many conversations between men and women in the church, attempting to comprehend their roles and God’s design for a collective church body. The good news for you is that I know for a fact I’ve inadequately studied it to have formed a solid opinion but my INITIAL OBSERVATIONS are that it was culturally relevant at the time and/or potentially meant for the correction of one heretical woman, not women plural. Also, I know that in my own personal journey with the Lord, God has used women’s perspectives to help alter the course of my life. Allie’s gentleness being a prime example, while experiencing the blessing that the spiritual gifts of encouragement and prophecy that came from others also seems to fit. I believe there is something to be gained from both perspectives – were we not both created in God’s image, fearfully and wonderfully made?

Deciding that since it’s been a while since I’ve been consistently studying the Bible I didn’t want to weigh myself down with trying to incessantly study the crap out of the previous passage or others for now. So that’s my brief synopsis on Chapter 1.

The real passage of Scripture that rocked me this morning and inspired me to write before I head upstairs to shower and get ready to work (got up early and worked out this morning AND got time to read the Bible and write – who am I? Gotta do this more often!) was 1 Timothy 4:12-16.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

“Do not neglect your gift.” It felt as if God was speaking to my heart. How often have I felt the prompt to speak or to write or to encourage and due to lack of trust in God I’ve done nothing? How accustomed I’ve become to ignoring the voice of God that when he’s speaking words in my ear for another they fall in crack in the sidewalk rather than on the fertile soil of that man’s heart. How long has pride delayed growth?

The next verse speaks of giving ourselves wholly to our people, so that everyone may see our progress. This makes me think of the isolation state we place ourselves in when we know we’re not where we are supposed to be in life. So we hide and pretend that everything is okay and when friends call and come knocking, it’s easier to pretend we’re not home or we are too busy than to confront the current reality of our hearts. But if we were to simply stay in community and be willing to share even our burdens and flaws – putting it all into the light – how much more powerful would God’s grace become in our lives?

So this Wednesday, friends, I encourage you – Do Not Neglect Your Gift.

Give God, your spouse, and the Church all that you have, so that they may see your progress and so that you all may be saved.

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Taking Every Thought Captive

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.”

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 is the battlecry I didn’t know my heart needed. I spent the majority of my morning wrestling with my thought-life, as I have for the past few days. Having difficulty sleeping due to anxiety revolving around thinking or perhaps even lack thereof. Over dinner the other evening, I shared with Allie that I felt the world went by too quickly sometimes and I wished there were more time to think and ponder. Interesting for a man to wish for that who is often consumed by destructive thinking, but I meant in the hustle and bustle of the monotonous, everyday it’s easy to forget to dream or to listen to God’s voice and leading.

I found myself restless this morning, wrestling with temptations to be lustful or bitter or to covet the riches of others. A lack of contentment led to a feeling of anxiety and a general wrestling that led to a need distract and accomplish – a need to avoid listening to my heart and to God and to bury myself into something – so cleaning the bathroom and doing laundry it was. Contrary to the norm of remaining in those life-stealing thoughts and/or numbing myself by seeking the entertainment of Netflix, etc. I found myself listening to a sermon on “Do Not Be Anxious” taught out of Philippians. It’s a frequently utilized passage that I’ve read, studied, preached to myself and to others, numerous times. But God has a way of teaching us something new with the same verses sometimes. And this time, I felt a call to action.

A sort of “enough is enough.” Allie’s shared with me that a tactic her parents used when she was having a pity party as a child was to tell her that it was a “Party of 1.” Meaning they weren’t going to entertain her ideas and stay there with her, but she was welcome to join their party of forward thinking, whenever she was done wallowing. I’ve since seen it used as a gentle anecdote to bring me out of my own pity parties of one. And so enough was enough – there was nothing healthy coming of staying in those dark, deceptive, depressing, deviant, distractions from the truth, known as my own negative thinking.

I’d equate pessimism as a habitual thought-cycle, a sort of systematic mind-numbing addiction. An unsatisfactory result occurs and your neural pathways have trained themselves to assume failure, which to no one’s surprise leads to further failure because you didn’t take the time out of your day to plan and to believe in yourself long enough to make a change. And so you did the same thing, “expecting” a different result – the very definition of insanity.

And so I laid on the bed, exhausted from going on a cleaning rampage to calm myself and had a heart-to-heart with God. “Lord, help me take every thought captive for your glory. If it’s not from you, help me to submit it to your will and to send it away from me. Heal and renew my mind. By taking my thoughts captive, I ask that you’d set my heart free so I’d be alive enough to be me.”

Scholars on addiction and thought-process have come to see that in order to retrain one’s impulses, whether they be thoughts or actions, it is necessary to identify triggers and to plan new responses. So instead of getting anxious and throwing back a few beers like you did in college, maybe you’ve now matured and have started going to the gym instead. For me, I think that whenever I’m faced with anxiety, anger, depression, or any kind of unwholesome thinking, I’m going to have to train myself to pray. But not only to pray – but to believe in the power of prayer and in its effectiveness. Then to make a move, take a step in a direction, sure of my footing because I’ve submitted my will to the Lord and pressing forward rather than remaining in the same place.

So long, stagnancy. Goodbye, evil. Farewell, apathy.

Enter Jesus. Together, we’re Taking Every Thought Captive.

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The Heights & Depths

I’ve fallen in love with raw humanity. The heights and the depths – I want it all. It’s not all about the mountain-tops, but sometimes about “the walking in between” as Ben Rector sings about in his recent album. I think that, in order to know and to love someone, you must understand that you will have to know them at their very worst, just as you may see a glimpse into their very best – their pain will be yours, just as much as their joy. And I think there is beauty to that.

Let’s think about it for a moment. No one is always happy, polished, and attractive. Yet, we nearly obsessively (or perhaps I’m speaking for myself, but hear me out) ensure that we remain polished around others. “How are you doing?” is followed by “Great! How are you?” even on a day when you may truly be breaking inside. So instead of facing the scars, we apply another coat of makeup. Sarcasm and supposed witty humor become our defense-mechanisms – we don’t want people to see what’s really inside, so we’re funny, not real.

I think it’s time to face the pain (yours and my own, together).

Every writer has his own beliefs and views, but as I’ve read memoirs (particularly Sheldon Vanauken’s “A Severe Mercy” and Brennan Manning’s “All Is Grace”) I’ve discovered one common theme among some of the greats – they are unashamedly transparent, raw, and honest about their brokenness. They believe what Paul said when preaching that they must become lesser, so that Christ can be made greater within them. Therefore, they lay pride aside, and lay bare their vices and broken relationships – that their readers may see that DESPITE their inability to be perfect, God still made them new, again and again, and used them for His glory.

During an episode of Scandal, one of the characters is facing a scandal (shocker) of their own. In the end, they become relieved that their “dirt” has surfaced. Once it has been brought into the light, it can be dealt with and “handled”. Despite the show’s occasionally risque nature, this is a potently biblical concept. Darkness loses its’ power when brought into the Light. When you flip the light-switch on in a dark-closet, the unknown becomes known, and our true colors show forth. Even more shockingly, with our polished facade now tarnished, we become more easy to relate to, less prideful/arrogant, and more likely to recognize humanity’s collective need for the gospel of grace.

A need within the church is the real life-on-life, connectivity, that goes much deeper than the surface. I can dress well and talk church-talk with the best of them. However, some days, underneath the sharp mind and quick witted extroversion, lies a boyish nature, wild imagination, and glaring insecurities that can drive me into isolation. There are days when I cannot stand to look in the mirror, so my head hangs low, ashamed of what it sees. Certain days, I attempt to convince myself that big-picture dreams are out-of-reach, because I do not measure up. Other days, I avoid social gatherings, simply because of my weight, or the fact that I sweat easily compared to others. One could easily chalk this up to spiritual-warfare and suggest that I pray and focus on God more. While those are all good things, I do not think it is always a matter of doing more. I think it may simply be a matter of bringing to light areas of struggle and allowing those “scandals” (areas lacking Christ-like nature and belief in God’s grace/power to overcome) to be “handled” (wrestled through) with the Church and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

It is difficult to shift one’s mindset from maintaining a polished appearance to being transparent and vulnerable with those around them. For me to admit that I am weak some days (or most days – depends on the season) and need others to lift me up, means that I am admitting to my inability to be self-sufficient, a great American travesty. But the ideology of pulling oneself up by their bootstraps is slowly dying, as more and more so, we realize our distinct need for community – brothers and sisters in arms, to make war against that which attempts to steal, kill, and destroy any element of what is good within us.

Reading Sheldon Vanauken’s memoir, “A Severe Mercy”, I’ve discovered that he had a deep friendship with CS Lewis. As he writes of their conversations and meetings and shares some of the letters and other correspondence, you begin to see the Christ-like character that both of these men possess. Sheldon describes CS Lewis as a man that would get right to the point, always leading Sheldon to the real issues at hand – the heart. 

Our weaknesses and insecurities may present themselves in physical embodiment through aesthetic flaws, substance-abuse, indulgent vices, and repressive thinking, but they all lead to the same thing – the brokenness of our hearts – the need for something bigger, greater, and more powerful than ourselves to overcome sin and to call out the righteousness that can be planted within us by the Spirit. (Paul would be proud. That’s a New Testament-like run-on sentence if I’ve ever written one. But read it again – I believe there’s truth within.)

I’m a doer and fixer. After all, I am a guy. We’re problem-solvers. We see problems, diagnose the situation, and attempt to implement a plan to fix that problem. So often, it’s easy to go the route of behavior modification, as opposed to wrestling through what the real underlying issues may be. Here’s an example. I want to lose weight, right? Who doesn’t? So I eat less (most days), exercise more, and alter my diet. That should fix the problem, right? Not really. The underlying issue still exists. Underneath a stronger, more endurance-trained (unfortunately not slimmer) me, there is still the mindset that I am not desirable. That’s the root issue. I want to be desirable. Then the question becomes, is God big enough for that? Is His Love enough for me? Will it satisfy?

So that is where we’re heading, friends. Deeper. The heights and the depths. There’s no turning back now. It’s high time the church were challenged to dig deep and pray hard. A life that lacks passion isn’t a life worth living. A passionate man/woman knows pain, as much as they do joy. But their joy is greater, because they’ve wrestled through the depths of darkness, and found their reasons to hope in the Light.

As we go deeper, we will be lifted higher. The humble man is lifted up by the LORD. One who prays has his prayers heard by the Son, who takes those requests and petitions them before the Father. As we face the deepest of depths, the Spirit will lift us up to the highest of heights. Let’s summit this mountainous life, together.

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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.

Declaration

I’ve been going through some interesting times spiritually. Knowing what sins you need to overcome and then refusing to deal with them has got to be one of the definitions of Christian insanity. How many of us go through such a phase? The Holy Spirit reveals within us things which are not honorable to God and then we seemingly say, “Thank you Holy Spirit, I’ll change that whenever I get the chance, or when it becomes convenient for me.” Then, quicker than the realization that what we have been doing is wrong, the thought leaves us. We walk right back through the seductive, seemingly attractive doors to sin. Once through that door, we’ve suddenly forgot our roots which are deeply found in Christ as our brother and God as our Father. Suddenly, God no longer matters and meeting our next sinful desire consumes us. Sweet for a second, then bitter, turning into a potent poison which corrupts the entire body; that is what sin is. So, we chase after it, giving everything to obtain it…but sin can’t love us, sin cannot fill one up with joy, love, compassion, grace, mercy, and strength. It is capable of no such thing. We become enslaved to sin. It imprisons us in our own chamber of depression, loneliness, and discontentment. Shackled by the bonds of our addiction to that which allured us through darkness’ door, we lose hope.

Living a life of sin is not freedom. What once offered us a pleasurable outlet for our unmet wants and desires is now simply a way of life. Convincing others that we are alright, because of our acquired status, or supposedly “earned” righteousness, we cloak the ugly truth about our hearts with the honey-dipped lies of a smooth tongue…

What a dark way to view the world? Surely, no man can withstand such darkness and remain living joyfully. This is the reality of the world that we live in. I would go so far as to dare any man to prove otherwise…

What is the one thing you have chosen over God? An angry heart, filled with hatred? Lustful eyes which desires can never be met? Perhaps, for you, it is pride; you cannot stand the idea of humility or servitude, so you fight all you can for a high position. There are countless counterfeit affections that we can give our lives to. I know that many times I have chosen something over God. O how much I regret having allowed myself to be deceived by the Evil One. Truly, I say to you that I hate Satan! There is no one on the face of this universe that desires my destruction and the destruction of those I love more than he.

A quote that has constantly stuck with me comes from a John Piper sermon. Piper declares, “The only possible attitude toward out of control desire for sin is a declaration of all out war.” Powerful words for a meek pastor and author from a small church in Minnesota, but he’s totally right. Christians, your desires WILL get you into trouble. Deciding to foolishly chase after them rather than after God, Himself, could very likely lead to death. Not simply your physical life slowly being taken from you, but rather your spiritual relationship with Christ being snuffed out, because you cannot have two masters. God will not be mocked and you will reap what you sow. Galatians 4:24 states, “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Paul is writing to the church, declaring that those who walk by the Spirit cannot gratify their evil desires anymore. Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we are walking a dangerous and deadly line whenever we choose to not heed such life-giving wisdom.

Remember Joseph from the Old Testament? He was tempted by the seductive house-wife of his master, Potiphar, and Joseph RAN. O Christians, run from sin! Do not dilly-dally any longer in the brook which will surely not give you life! Run! Run back to Father God’s arms…NOW. Not tomorrow, not an hour from now, not when you are ‘ready to settle down’, you must do this right now!!!

Christian, if you are truly a follower of Christ, then this decision will not be as difficult as you and I would like to make it out to be. You see, we gave up our life so that we may be granted fellowship with God and have the rights as sons and heirs of His Kingdom. You may one day graduate from being under the authority of your earthly parents, but you will never graduate from being under the authority of God. Does that statement make your blood boil? Do you believe that you are being wronged? It frustrated me. I have spent a great deal of thought, time, and energy contemplating the various ways to still be a child of God, without fully submitting to his authority, and it does NOT work. How can the Father give you good gifts and entrust you with the things that you want and need, if He is not fully certain that you are indeed His son. Let us assume for a moment that I am the adopted child of a very wealthy man. He has promised to give me my inheritance as He sees me grow and mature. Then, feeling entitled and frustrated with how I must submit to authority, I run away from home and squander everything. Do you think that a wise father in this situation should turn around and reward my foolishness by writing a check for the remainder of his estate? Absolutely not! However, in the story of the prodigal son, Jesus tells his disciples that we can indeed return back to the Father and He will graciously anoint us as His worthy children once again. It requires a great deal of humility and courage to return Home to what you ran away from though…We must also count the costs…Is following Jesus and walking back Home to the Father truly worth dying to ourselves?

I plead with you…surely Christ is worth absolutely everything. There is nothing in this world that can offer you more than He can. Truly, better is one day in His courts than thousands elsewhere. Better than thousands upon thousands…

Readers, I have counted the costs and have decided that He is certainly worth it all. I will live my life solely for Him and for those He entrusts me with, counting all I have as a loss if it were not for my King’s glory. I will become a slave to righteousness and will fight sin to the death. I won’t do it alone though…I will petition the LORD in prayer, need constant reminding and strengthening from brothers and sisters in Christ, and I will always need Jesus and the precious grace that He has offered.

Written in ink, I have stated my pledge to The Father. Will you choose to write yours? Few will inherit the Kingdom of God. According to a Gallup poll, 92% of Americans state that they “believe in God.” How deceived have we become?!?!? Will you and I be a part of the few men and women that decidedly endured the race and finished well? Will we give up the rest of our lives to hear our Father say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”? It is now in your hands. Take responsibility for your many sins and seek God’s help! He is not interested in changing your situation but wants to change (renew) your heart. Humble yourselves and allow Him to work! The strongest, bravest, most courageous, stance that we can take is one of desperation, on our faces, pleading with God for our redemption. If we do this, out of a pure heart, how could The Redeemer not bring redemption?

Praying for the awakening of your souls,

Justin Meyer

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

The Runner

The sun is booming; June heat in Kansas, along with the humidity, southern winds, and various other factors are sure to enact the sweat glands of even the fittest individual. Heavy-breathing is followed by heavy footsteps as your feet pound against the pavement. Looking around, the greenery is beginning to become not so green anymore, as grass is charred by the intensity of the summer sun, turning it into a yellowish-brown wasteland. As you attempt to breathe, the air is thick, as if swimming through an ocean. However, you are not swimming, but are running. Running fast. Overcome every obstacle through the blood of The Lamb!

Approaching an incline in the road, you do as every other person would and pick up the pace to maintain enough momentum to force your heavy body up the grade. A quarter of the way up the hill, you begin to think, “What am I doing? I could walk…maybe even stop and collapse.” However, the little engine that could comes to life in your mind as you begin to think “I think I can”, “I think I can”, you are now halfway up the monstrous hill. But wait…fatigue is setting in, muscles are cramping, your breaths are becoming shorter. How can one push themselves over the top? How could you possibly summit the hill and come coasting to a comfortable pace down the other side?

I was thinking about life today. Weird, right? I’m 22 years old and “thinking about life” as if I am some sort of old Yoda, ready to assess the current state of the world and breath life into it via truth that has only been gained by the grace of God through the Holy Spirit. God’s Word alludes to the Christian journey as a race that has been marked out for us and we are to run the race with all endurance and perseverance, keeping our minds on the good and noble things of this world as we continually return to the Father for strength, nourishment, counsel, and the ability to overcome any and every obstacle that is used to test our character. Think of the story of Job…a man who was found by God to be one of the most righteous in the land…Satan requests to wreak havoc upon his life, saying that in the end, Job will turn away from God due to his circumstances. We are amazed to see that Job’s character is certainly challenged (perhaps even to the breaking point as his friends come to comfort, challenge, and counsel him), yet he curses the day of his birth and himself rather than cursing God. In the end, he is faithful to God. Would I be that faithful? Would you?

One of the realities of this life is that we will all be put to the test. In fact, it is when we are becoming effective witnesses for the LORD (as was the cause with Job) that Satan will increasingly desire to bring destruction to our lives in such a way that would disable us from running the race and finishing strong. The thing about marathon runners is that there are many who would like to complete the journey…but few that are able to persevere long enough to cross the finish line. My friend, Carlos, recently set out to run a marathon and he did it! He ran across the finish-line and completed the race that was set before him! He said it was such an exciting feeling. You should have seen how the joyous expressions on his face as he attempted to recreate the story before us. How much more exciting would it be to complete the race of life and to have finished it well?!?! Having given every ounce of strength that we had to the LORD, pouring ourselves out like drink-offerings as Paul did; serving others, lifting them up, calling ourselves and others to repentance in the name of Jesus and encouraging them to run the race towards His throne alongside us, we can finish well!

Whether it is a job-search, financial security, education, relationships, health/sickness, etc. we all have our hills to climb. Perhaps you are currently coasting at a comfortable pace and life hasn’t thrown any at you in a while, well, I assure you that there they are to come. Let us prepare our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies for the hills that lie ahead; seeking the LORD daily in prayerful devotion of our entire lives to Him that we may never stray from the path and always have the strength to continue upward, even when the hill/obstacle seems nearly impossible. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Amen? Amen!!!!

Running for Him,
Justin

P.S. In other news, I am currently trying to jog on a fairly regular basis and I am definitely out-of-shape. Feel free to pray for and encourage my journey toward a more disciplined and healthy self so that I may be better equipped to serve the LORD and others with the remainder of my life!

The Next Chapter

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,  a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Many things are separated by chapters. The use of chapters in books informs the reader that a new idea, story-line, etc. is being introduced and that one has reached its’ conclusion. Sometimes the authors will leave us sitting on a cliff-hanger, not entirely sure of what is to come next, sometimes they don’t. Regardless, it is time to turn the page and continue the journey that is found within. It turns out that life has chapters as well. A chapter for childhood; being raised up under the direction and strict discipline of our parents who teach us right from wrong, a chapter for teenage rebellion, a chapter for young-adults/college-students; learning a lot from your own mistakes, the grace shown by others, the hardships life has to potentially offer up at some point, and so on. Around this time last year, I was writing a post titled “Time Flies and Season’s Change” and how true that is! It is safe to say that I am not the same man that I was and it is fairly safe to say that you are not the exact same person that you were a year ago either…time changes things…it changes us…and as we change, a new chapter begins.

I graduated with the Class of 2008 from Olathe Northwest High School! Many of my peers graduated the same year and have recently completed their undergraduate studies at Kansas State University and other universities across the United States! Congratulations to those of you that were disciplined, demonstrated perseverance, and enough intelligence to graduate in the ever elusive four-year time period. To those of you that have another year or so to go…I’m right there with you!

Regardless of graduation status, many of us are turning the page and beginning to write the next chapter of our lives. Some are getting engaged, others starting relationships, some dedicating themselves to singleness for a period of time to seek out the LORD, some are ready and seeking, and some are ALREADY MARRIED.

Friends, graduates, brothers, sisters, married, unmarried, etc. I write to you today with a single appeal to our generation as we step into the next chapter of life; whether it be landing a corporate job, marrying the spouse of your dreams, devoting your life to full-time ministry, etc. I desire for all of you to keep this in mind as you take those steps…

Grace is absolutely essential to the advancement of the Kingdom of God and to the acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, grace is a rarity. We live in a judgmental society; passing judgement on one another for wrongdoings. In fact, calling someone judgmental is announcing judgement. Therefore, currently, as I write this, I am being judgmental. I NEED GRACE. Without your grace, I will be accused of bigotry and slander. With grace, this can be viewed as a message to encourage, challenge, and strengthen the Body.

Forgiveness is difficult. But God is love. And “[Love] is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) My friend Bryce recently wrote on his Facebook page, “Stars shine in a dark night as a reflection of the sun. Without the sun the stars can’t shine. Christians shine in a dark world as a reflection of Christ, [The Son]. We can’t shine without Christ.” We are indeed a reflection of our Savior…or…more accurately, we SHOULD be a reflection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. If this is the case, and it is, then we will learn to genuinely love others. We will grow in our ability to extend authentic, no-strings-attached, grace to one another and to others outside the community of Christ.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Paul, often viewed as one of the ‘superheros’ of The Church, was weak and sinful at the core, but he had given his life to God, submitted to him as His disciple, and rested in his position as one of God’s beloved children. If God’s grace was sufficient for him, then is sufficient for us as well.

LOVING OTHERS, without regard for their wrongdoings, and EXTENDING GRACE, even to those who have hurt you is NOT easy. I struggle with putting this into practice in my own life, but I am taking steps toward it and would love it if you joined me in this journey.

Let’s conclude the chapter of our lives where judgement, condemnation, and superficiality play starring roles…Pray with me that, as we turn the page in life to the next chapter, God would begin to write in ink the story of unconditional love, authentic grace, and overpowering redemption in each of our lives and in the lives of those we impact.

Humbled By Grace,

Justin Meyer

1 Corinthians Discussion

Dear Friends,

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve slowly been making my way through 1 Corinthians. It’s been a challenging study, as many perspectives of mine are being challenged/questioned through Scripture. We know that “The Body” aka The Church is made up of many parts and some are gifted with wisdom and understanding, others knowledge, and so on (1 Corinthians 12 on spiritual gifts), which led me to the conclusion that sharing my uncertainty with others could possible bring about a positive dialogue which enriches all of our perspectives with the knowledge and person experiences of other readers and their personal relationships with Christ! That being said, I’m VERY EXCITED and strongly encourage you to participate in the discussion which I hope to create over these passages.

I didn’t come across too many confusing/troubling aspects of the first two chapters, but if you’ve got any questions over those, feel free to share! The first thing I’d like to discuss can be found within 1 Corinthians 4:3-5,

“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in the darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.”

Verse 5 is intense. He will EXPOSE the motive’s of our hearts! Wow, turns out we’re not as sly as we may think on some occasions. God knows and WILL bring those things to the light. How silly of us to think we could hide from the God whom created us from the dust and placed us in our mother’s womb?!?! 

Here is where things get confusing for me…Chapter 5: 3-8 is Paul’s response to a recent sexually immoral act committed by one of the church’s members. Someone has slept with his father’s wife and Paul says,

“Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed  judgment  on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satanso that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” 

So basically, Paul is now saying that we shouldn’t pass judgement in Chapter 4, but now in Chapter 5, he’s stating that he IS passing judgement as if he were there with them…THEN, Paul instructs his church in Corinth to hand the man over to Satan in order that he might be saved. If you can shed light on this, please share, because logically I cannot comprehend this instruction!

Moving right along…to Chapter 6, Paul discusses with them lawsuits among believers and how it’s ridiculous that they cannot settle such matters within the Church as it is a bad witness. “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated,” he states in 1 Corinthians 6:7. But then comes the topic of marriage! Get excited all of my single friends! No one can argue that within today’s culture, a 20-something single man and woman are under an incredible amount of pressure. In order to be established as a ‘successful’ member of society, one must graduate, marry a ‘respectable'(who gets to define exactly what that is anyways?) counterpart, become employed, and make their elders proud in all aspects of life. But what if Scripture were to throw a wrench in all of these plans? What IF one was called to be single? What IF one was called to be single…for the rest of their life? Paul’s position is that “it is good for a man not to marry.” I really encourage you all to read Chapter 7 as it will certainly challenge many of you to seek the Lord in regards to marriage. OBVIOUSLY, I’m not saying marriage is a BAD thing. I’m straight. I hope to be married to a beautiful woman someday, BUT shall it be the Lord’s will, I should be able to be content with that…and according to Scripture…so should you.

Alright, I’m about to open up a can of worms, so prepare yourselves. Let’s discuss gender roles within the church. Particularly women’s. “Oh no he didn’t!” But oh yes I am…haha. Before continuing to read, pull out your Bible and read 1 Corinthians 11: 3-16.

Within this section of Scripture, we are taught that:

  • Christ is the head of every man and man is the head of woman.
  • Men should not pray or prophecy with their heads covered.
  • Women should cover their heads, otherwise they dishonor themselves as if their head were shaved.
  • Man is the image and glory of God. Woman is the glory of man.
  • Men and woman need each other.
  • It is disgraceful for men to have long hair.

Now, I don’t know about you…but I didn’t grow up in a church where women were expected to cover their heads and to be silent within the church? Women generally don’t wear anything to cover their heads (for some reason I have the image of bonnets from “Little House On The Prairie”). AND a majority of my brothers in Christ have gone through periods where they sported longer hair. BUT, isn’t this the NEW Testament? Aren’t these teachings ones that are valid and something we should wrestle with? So…I’m wrestling with them and am confused. What are your thoughts on gender roles within the church? Within some divisions of Christianity it is acceptable for a woman to pastor the church. Is there Scripture that supports this idea? (1 Corinthians 14:33-35 continues the conversation…)

The last area I’ll take the time to cover and invite discussion over is the concept of spiritual gifts. The primary section to focus on would be Chapter 12, which just so happened to be titled “Spiritual Gifts”. After reading through this chapter, it is discovered that the Spirit is manifest in many ways. There are gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, etc. My main question is…where are all of these spiritual gifts hiding?!?! I believe the power of God is real and present in current-day, ABSOLUTELY. And I’ve witnessed friends being healed before me through prayer. But when was the last time you saw someone speaking in tongues, or found one whom could interpret tongues in such a way that edified the Body of Christ? What are your thoughts on the spiritual gifts? Are they still alive and well today? And if they are…then why are they not present within the modern day churches of America for the most part.

Thanks for sticking with me through this journey! PLEASE comment with your perspective on some of the things I’ve mentioned and feel free to present any questions of your own. We can work together to bring about a greater clarity and more concrete understanding.

Blessings,

Justin Meyer

What if…?

For centuries human-beings have never stopped asking questions. Since the beginning of our existence on this planet we have wondered about the existence of the heavens and the stars. We have sought to the find cures for sickness and we have asked philosophical questions about the meaning of our very existence on planet Earth. One of the driving questions of society today is “What if…?” For example, “What if the sun were to stop shining?” “What if our planet ran out of it’s resources?” And for centuries scientists have evaluated hypotheses to see if they could scientifically reach the correct conclusion. “If the sun were removed from the equation, then life could not sustain itself.”

Being a human-being and a curious one at that, I feel myself inclined to ask a “What if…?” question that I believe could change our entire perception of our lives. Are you read for it?…Perhaps you’re not ready just yet, so allow me to provide you with some background and reasoning behind why I feel it is necessary to write this…

A few years ago at Olathe Bible Church (my home church), one of the pastors took us through a series entitled “What if the Church?” To this day, those teachings have stuck with me and I believe have impacted me to the core. It was the kickoff series to a region-wide serve day in the suburb of Kansas City. But you would not believe the absolute incredible impact that it had upon the community. Several neighboring churches jumped on board with the idea and THOUSANDS of people served on the set day. It was incredible to see how the LORD used the obedience of a few pastors to lead their flock towards serving the local community; effectively reflecting the unconditional love of Christ and heart of service that all of God’s children should have.

Provided this background, I believe you are ready for my question…What if those who proclaim to be Christians ACTUALLY lived their lives in a Christ-like way?

I believe it is absolutely fundamental for a believer to desire to be Christ-like. As Christians, you are therefore claiming to be a follower of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. There are many “Christians” that do not understand this concept. To them Christianity is simply attending a church service on Christmas and Easter and updating their facebook profile so that it reads “Christian.” I firmly believe that in order to be a legitimate child of the LORD you have to experience a much more significant change. I believe Paul Washer stated it best when he said to someone who claimed to be a new believer, “You think you’re a follower of Christ?…Well do you have a new relationship with sin?”  In another sermon Washer is quoted saying, “The sign of a genuine work of God in the heart is that you begin to hate the sin you once loved and to love the righteousness you once ignored.

Take a minute to take these quotes to heart…and then open up your Bible to 2 Corinthians 5:17, which states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” We must absolutely HATE sin and love Jesus Christ more than anything else in order to follow Him with all of our heart, mind, and soul as we are called to do.

So then, what if…believers were actually Christ-like?

What if…you served? All throughout the Gospels there is example after example of the LORD’s absolutely unconditional love for His children. My favorite is found in John 13. Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Prince of Peace, the Messiah, the Savior, The God-man, WASHES his disciples feet! This was a task for the lowest servant in the household. And yet…Jesus got down on his knees and proceeded to wash away the dirt and filth from the feet of his disciples and then says,

“Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me teacher and Lord and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:12-17)

Jesus has instructed us to serve others, so let’s do it! Not with a heart of resentment but with a heart that loves Jesus Christ so much that we desire to display our love for Him via our obedience to His Word. Brothers and sisters, SERVE OTHERS!

What if…the media you watched brought glory to God? There is not a single person that cannot tell me they do not expose themselves to media throughout the day. We live in a culture that is absolutely saturated with media. We love music, films, news, etc. It’s easy to pop in the new action-comedy. It’s easy to spend my day surfing through ESPN and various CNN articles. But what if, instead of watching that action-comedy I soaked in a sermon? What if, instead of listening to the culture-filled hip hop, I listen to Lecrae or the Pearlescent Shepherd’s gospel-filled lyrics? Regardless of what we tell ourselves. Media DOES influence our perception of the world. So let’s be mindful of what we allow into our minds and hearts…

What if…you cared about others? Jesus CARED about others. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, brought light to the dark places, and just overall CARED. Shouldn’t we care?…When was the last time that you said, “How are you doing?” to someone? Next question…when was the last time you actually listened to that person’s response? The greatest gift we can give to others at times is simply listening. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve just needed nothing more than for someone to listen to me. If you see someone is having a rough day, then go out of your way to encourage them! It’ll make a huge difference, I promise.

What if…the church was more than a building? Most churches back in biblical times were simply tabernacles (tents) where people met to celebrate the Sabbath. But they were FAR MORE than that. Churches were COMMUNITIES. They were places where brothers and sisters in Christ came together and encouraged one another. Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron; so one man sharpens another.” In Ephesians 4, Paul writes about the tremendous need for unity within the church-body! So make church more than a building. Make church a community of believers passionately striving to follow Jesus Christ wholeheartedly.

My concluding thoughts lead me to my final question, which is, what would happen if followers of Christ lived out their lives for the glory of God; reflecting His unconditional love to others in every aspect of their lives?

If history teaches us anything, then I believe the answer is revival would be found within the church. When a community of believers actually live their lives out in faith, when Christians are on their knees crying out to the Most High God, and when we live our lives in a continuous state of joy, THINGS HAPPEN. Incredible things happen. The joy within the body of Christ is contagious. The church growth is exponential and unstoppable. And suddenly even the largest obstacles that Satan could possibly muster up could not defuse the on-fire spirits of these Christ-followers!

Ok, I lied, one last question…

With these things in mind…what are you waiting for?…Let’s take the teachings of Jesus to heart! Let’s live our lives for Him and NEVER look back!

Blessings and Happy Easter to all,

Justin Meyer