Relying On Him

It was one of those weeks where you never really catch up on sleep – and just when you think the drama has come to an end, there’s a new twist and turn. From family drama to challenging professional interactions, arguments over nothing caused by irritability, and life-changing, deep conversations. From a margarita infused laugh fest to sober tears and lots of pain, there was all of it.

I’m not sure why but whenever life enters that spectrum where success suddenly doesn’t seem to matter all that much, interesting things happen. You’re at work – but you’re not really at work. You’re in the car driving, but your thoughts are taken back to your own memories of pain. You make it home safe, but you’re not sure how.

This week a family member made the strong, challenging decision to break off an emotionally abusive relationship and I couldn’t be more proud. But it’s hard to break away from something that we’ve become used to.

In a way, “love” can become as addictive as a drug, the dopamine that had been released during close times together creates a spiritual tie of sorts. It binds us closer, creates that need for closeness; and that’s one of the many reasons it hurts so much to break a relationship off.

The light that is at the other end of the tunnel is worth it though. I remember the time in my life where I was in a relationship where the other individual wasn’t all-in, but I was – it hurt a great deal to end the relationship one fateful May evening. But what I didn’t know is that just a little while later – on an October evening, I’d meet a woman that would love me wholeheartedly, forgive quickly, and encourage and champion growth together. It was no longer the endless, perpetual cycle of stagnancy; I made financial gains, spiritual gains, and relational gains. “He makes all things new.” Even you. And even me.

My heart has been overwhelmed with the pain of others recently. Thinking about all of the addictions that some wrestle with and that I’ve had to overcome personally. Allowing myself to feel the pain my family-member is going through. Spending valuable time on my phone outside talking brothers off the ledge.

It’s times like these that make me wonder – how does anybody do it that doesn’t know Jesus?

I mean, seriously. How?

Several times over the last week, when someone has overstepped their bounds and interfered with my life and I’ve wanted to lash out in anger, I had to rely on strength that was not my own – it was His.

Several times over the last week, when someone was feeling the same pain that I’ve experienced in the past, I had to rely on strength that was not my own – it was His.

Several times over the last year, as a brother in Christ confesses their battle with purity, and I’ve done the hard thing of giving them tough, Gospel inspired love, calling them to repent and then lovingly embracing them – I’ve had to rely on strength that was not my own – it was His.

So when you ask, how does the eldest of five, newly married, constantly busy, “rock-star-legend” (according to my wife) retail salesmen manage to keep it together (most of the time)? The answer is, I am His. My strength is His. I rely on Him.

I know Jesus, and I want you to know Him too. He saved my life, saved my marriage, gave me hope, and rose again – giving every sunrise new mercies.

There’s a new beginning each day. And we get to live with that hope, because of Him.

I’m praying for you, dear friend, as you’ve taken the time to read this – praying that you would know Him too.

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Untitled: A Poem Rooted In Hope

It’s hard to compose myself,
Can’t wrap up my heart and put it on a shelf.
Not meant to idle on the title,
This is just the recital.

But I need a revival,
To feel the tidal wave,
Of God’s blessing because I’m not a slave,
To death anymore, but to righteousness.
To feel the drive inside my chest.
Wake up today and get dressed,
With purpose and to fix this mess.

The world we’ve all been creating,
By evading the complications,
Not on “many sides” but all sides.
Guilt ridden hearts because we were just witnesses,
“innocent” by neutrality, but avoiding the reality
That we’re all to blame,
It’s such a shame.

I should love my neighbor and not be scared,
If they dress or act different, what’s the difference?

Our hearts were all designed the same,
Created in His image and then named,
Children of God and sons of righteousness,
And then evil comes and entices us.

Greed plants seeds that bear their fruit,
Just not the kind that represented You.

Hearts plagued with a need for connection,
Yet when we come to their intersection,
We turn away toward isolation.
It’s “safe” there and we can remain stationed.
Is is stationed or stationary?

Stagnancy that prevents growth and brings about cults,
Because if they think what we think, then there’s no need to really think.
On the brink of insanity,
By removing that essential aspect of our humanity.

Turning deaf ears to one another,
Because we’ve already tuned out the mutter
Of a trigger-happy President and news-anchor resonance.

It’s time for a discussion,
Like the NFL and their concussions,
We’ll only circle back to where we’ve been,
If we don’t take the time to listen to then…

The past whispers hope for reconciliation,
A grassroots of the good parts of this nation.

While the Gospel brings hope and grace,
And I’d love to see more of that in hate’s place.

It starts with you and it starts with me,
Asking God on bended knee,

“Bless the stars and stripes with unity.
And with my friends and family, will you be with thee?”

Because if we all remain neutral and individualistic,
Then we’ll never be a community.

And truthfully, we’ll never be the church.

Tidal Waves

Life tends to come in waves. I imagine a seashore where the tide has just come in and you feel overwhelmed by all of the love and blessings and then all of the sudden the tide goes back out deeper into sea, and the sand in your heart dries out just as quickly as it was soaked with wetness.

That picture has been painted in my head the last night or two and I wanted to take a minute to write it out because I think there’s someone somewhere reading this that can relate – and understands what I’m referring to.

It’s easy to be joyful and filled with a sense of contentment when the tide comes in. Friends visit from out-of-town, a financial blessing is poured out your way, your life-partner and you are on fire with passion for one another – and then just as quickly as life was getting good, it gets hard again. Unexpected bills make their way into your home through the mail, you realize you and your friends may once again be growing apart, and your life-partner and yourself are both wrestling through your own internal emotional and mental wars, unable to be as lovingly supported as you were when the tide was coming in.

I can’t help but think that I’ve begun to miss something in my ‘old age’ and lack of community. That joy that simply refuses to die. The one that once killed found a way to come back to life just three days later.

Something intriguing about the resurrection of Jesus is that He didn’t come back right away. He didn’t die on the cross and then come back the very next day with a proclamation of “Told you, suckers!” He lets His community mourn, He allows them to feel pain – to realize the realness of life and the lack thereof in some situations. I wonder why He did that? Was it to show us that sometimes you just have to suffer? That even after a few days of loneliness and confusion there’s bound to be a clearing of the clouds moment where the sun starts to shine through again?

Every day I learn more and more about my desperate need for a Savior. Without a “Jesus” to hold onto and place my hope and faith in, then I have nothing. Life will always be hard. My weaknesses will always remain weaknesses and my friendships will always fade into the busyness of business-as-usual. But with Jesus, with a believe that someone died on the cross for my sins and has given me that same ability to overcome death and to overcome darkness – with that indescribable power at my praying knee’s discretion – my weaknesses can become strengths, my relationships can be restored, and business can take a chill pill because in the end, the heart is what matters.

My wife said something profound this week as we were laying in bed and sharing our hearts. (I love snuggle time. There’s no safer place than in bed next to each other just pouring out our hearts and crying and laughing and encouraging and praying together. It’s the safest, happiest fortress in all the land, and I love it and I love her.) So I’m laying there talking about how I really want to make a difference in the world but I often don’t believe I’ll ever make a lasting impact – I’ll never actually become a writer or teacher and I’ll never actually leave all this extra weight behind in the dust, and I’ll never end up working Monday-Friday, etc. etc. (I have a tendency to try and take on and conquer the entire world in a day – and as you can imagine that’s impossible.) And here’s what my beautiful wife says to me – “Justin…you don’t have to make a difference in the world, you just have to make a difference in your world.”

Those of you that consider yourselves to be part of “my world” – would you say that I am making a difference? If not, how can I be better utilized as a prayer warrior and brother in Christ fighting beside you?

Friends that are fighting through their post-grad years and mid-to-late twenties – how have you purposefully invested in community while not diminishing time alone with your spouse and the pursuit of your dreams?

I know there’s not one “answer” but I’m ready to listen to a few suggestions.

Walking with you, friends. Let’s remember that progress is progress and if we have not Hope then we have nothing at all. Don’t let anyone steal that from you today.

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American Culture And Growth In Christ Because You’re Worth It.

My inner circle knows that I’m in a period of hyper spiritual growth and maturing as a man right now as I prepare for upcoming chapters in my life. Out with the old, in the with the new; a whole lot of prayer and a whole lot of hard, emotional, painful work to get there.

Things worth pursuing always come at a cost.

Our culture hasn’t done a great job of teaching us to count the cost. I don’t think Donald Trump ever learned to count the cost of his inflammatory remarks toward woman. And I don’t believe that Hillary Clinton fully considered the ramifications of Benghazi and deleting e-mails to attempt avoiding accountability. (I do not endorse either candidate for the record, but I’ll leave my political leanings at that for now.) The thing I’m getting at, is if our two “best” Republican and Democratic candidates for Presidential office of the United States of America are two full-grown “adults” that lie, steal, and quarrel like elementary students on the playground, then I think it’s a sad reflection on the social landscape of America.

We’ve fallen victim to selfishness. Pursuing whatever is best for us in the moment, without considering the cost – unaware of the rewards, consequences, monetary debt inflammation, and other ramifications our decisions would cause. Behaving like children and quarreling more with one another than discussing, investing, and serving alongside one another to truly build a better America. We’re more focused on who’s “worse than us” than we are on improving ourselves to build a better future for everyone – because we all have an impact on this world, whether we want that responsibility or not.

And if this is a reflection of our national leadership and our political landscapes and if I’m currently fighting the backlash of a couple decades of not taking responsibility for my actions, then perhaps you are, too.

So where do you start? Where do you go when you realize it’s time to grow up and you can’t get out of this one? There’s no one to pass the blame onto this time, except for your own shortcomings (whether those be laziness, greed, pride, addiction, hatred and bitterness that poison your heart, and the like).

You tell someone.

Trump is Trump because he thinks he doesn’t need anyone. He is his own king and he has all this “wealth” and can do whatever he wants, so it makes him a ‘man’. Clinton is Clinton because her husband betrayed her (and many, many other things we all just don’t know – she is definitely more than her husband’s actions) and she’s grown cold-hearted and calculated, doing whatever it takes, in scandal after scandal, to get what she wants. She doesn’t need her husband. She doesn’t need anyone.

Wrong. Absolutely wrong.

We all need someone. We all need accountability and community. You will fall. And if there’s no one by your side to pick you up and get you back in the fight for freedom and Kingdom work, then you’ll stay there in the pit of your own despair and begin to build your home there, because you think you’re just not good enough for something better than the present sum of your past sins.

Wrong again.

You are absolutely created and destined for something greater than that. Heirs to the throne and absolutely powerful to overcome, heal, prophecy, and bring forth incredible revivals, if you will only submit your lives to Christ. (Another area we often fail to count the costs of…You can have power and gifts and be alive in the Spirit, but you’ve gotta put your own pride and ‘glory’ and doing it all ‘on your own’ to death first, before it can happen.)

So take the first step and call someone. “Hey [their name here], it’s [your name] – I’m done doing it all on my own. I’ve tried and tried and fought and fought. I’ve ran away long enough. It’s left me in a dark, tired, lifeless, and absolutely spent place. I need Jesus. I need closer friendships and community. I need the church and you to pray with and walk with me through this life, so that growth can occur.”

I’m praying that when you make that phone-call, you’re met with open arms and someone that wants to come by your side and help you live the life you’re absolutely capable of living. You just don’t know it yet. That’s okay. You’ve spent a long time believing the lie that you weren’t worth it anyways.

I promise you are.

In Christ,

Justin

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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

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Fire And Ice

You were hot, then you were cold.
Weren’t sure you remembered bold.
Something had taken a hold,
Of your life and sold,
Your joy to the thief of old.

Clock out, then clock in.
Pay bills then spending,
More time worrying than enjoying.

Anxious escapades,
Trying to find the shades.

Places to hide behind,
Fancy frames and stylish.
Fuel your grind,
And smile’ish.

Nothing felt real,
Not even “real.”

Spiritual facades or authentic prayers?
When they laid their hands on you,
Was it tried and true?
Or was it a man-made cure for the blues?

So where is this power the church speaks of?
Where are these angels watching above?
And when it comes to push-and-shove,
Will you catch any blessings in your glove?

Life is harder than it is easy,
Those inspirational quotes pure cheesy.
Promises of things to come, just a tease.
Nothing seems to set your heart at ease.

So you wonder through the desert for 40 years,
Fill your eyes with many tears.
Occasionally stop to hear the cheers,
Of the opponent’s love of your many fears.

Shame has made its home here,
“Freedom” makes your heart sneer.
If you were free, things would be clear.
Wouldn’t fight the ice you see in the mirror.

Asking God to send fire from heaven,
To melt your calloused bruises,
Provide answers for your excuses,
To wipe away the memories,
Of things that happened and shouldn’t be.

If God is love, then couldn’t He;
Come down now and rescue me?

And this is the cry of many hearts,
Debating worthless politics,
While evading what makes the soul tick.

All this hunger and all these dreams,
All this thirst for bountiful streams,
All this prayer for all these things,
All this comfort for all these stings.

So Lord, I placed myself in open;
Admit that I’m one of the you’s that’s coping;
Struggling as an adult to fully believe,
That you really want what’s best for me.

So Father God come and make yourself seen,
Clear our eyes and answer our screams.
Fulfill your promises and walk in my dreams,
Sew my heart back together at its torn seams.

Ice cold, but ready to be hot.
Flame once and ice I’m not.
So heavenly fire come and melt the ice,
I know that Jesus’ already paid the price.

It won’t be easy and it won’t be nice,
But I’m ready to win life’s game of Fire And Ice.

fire and ice

#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.

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