Race Against The Battery

I was just meeting with a friend for coffee and talking with him about his pursuit of becoming a better writer. It reminded me of a time when I blogged far more regularly. I would participate in a thing called “Five Minute Friday” – where there would be a topic and you’d have five minutes of writing, without editing or worrying too much about your thoughts – you wrote about the selected topic and shared them with the world.

There’s something fun about not holding back. Scared of not measuring up to what readers may expect, I will frequently discount my voice and shy away from sharing what I have to say. So this morning it’s a race against my MacBook’s battery (because I forgot the charger and probably won’t have any free time to finish writing later). Let’s see what we can do with 12% – I mean, 11%….

Life is kind of a race against the battery – isn’t it? You wake up fully charged most of the time and some days you didn’t sleep that well – you forgot to plug yourself into the bed early enough and wake up at 50% and you’re like, “Welp – today is gonna be fun.” And then even on a normal day, by the time lunch rolls around you’re running near 50% or less, just wondering how you’re going to get through the remaining 8 hours.

As I sit here in Black Dog, that’s kind of how I feel about my life right now. Lots of variables and unknowns in life currently and lots of dreams and things being prayed for, and having pursuits of becoming healthier – exercising more and eating right – but then the subzero temperatures hit and the fridge runs out of fruits and vegetables and you find yourself digging into a greasy burger and beer at Johnny’s after work.

Conserving battery life – time-management, money management, stress management, crisis response are all a part of this wild journey that we call life. And at every turn seems to be a reminder that we need to get better at more than one of these areas. And it’s overwhelming if you let it be.

I frequently look at all the areas I need to improve in and want to curse myself out. “You should have x-amount saved for retirement, and you should have a house, and you should be 50 lbs lighter, and able to lift y-amount of pounds, and your sales should be so much better, and you should be reading the Bible every day, continuing recovery homework, and writing your book – you should be doing all of these things, every day.” It’s as if I’m looking down on myself and lecturing myself into a comatose state. “I guess this is it – I’ve failed. I’ll never make it.”

8% left…

And that’s how I feel. 8% left. Stuck in the same patterns, plugging into the same old, crappy sources for strength.

And then it hits me. God loves us so much that he’s offered us Living Water! And those that have tasted it should thirst no more! And here I am, in a “thirsty” culture that lusts and covets everything – allowing myself to be poisoned to the point of death. And my Lord and Savior is saying, “Here – come and drink! Let the children come to me.” And it’s in those moments where you’re on the floor in tears and feeling helpless and hopeless like a little child that we can truly remember what faith is, what it’s like to realize we need something, someone, some God – because we will NEVER be enough, on our own.

The self-help industry and all of it’s nooks and crannies wants you to believe that you ARE enough and that you WILL get better, and maybe you will get better. But at the end of the day, if your heart doesn’t change, you’re not going to remain changed – because you’ll always be yourself. The only one capable of changing your heart is God. And that seems to be what we all run from the most. Allowing ourselves to feel exposed and vulnerable and ready to listen to the Living God, like a child experiences when they’ve messed up and their parents are rebuking them. But not for the sake of rebuking them and making them feel awful – for the sake of their personal development and growth, that they wouldn’t grow up to become that type of person.

6% left…

What if we remembered we were offered eternal life, living water, a source of strength and substance that doesn’t know limits. Never runs out. Never needs to be recharged. What if our dreams were no longer limited by fear, resources, and other’s opinions? What if our current state didn’t have to determine our future?

What if we cashed in on God’s promises? You have a better plan for my future? Cha-Ching! Show me! You have a hope and I’m fearfully and wonderfully made? Cha-Ching! Show me! Show me, Lord – how I am desirable, beautiful, handsome, and made to do good works.

What if….

Battery is gone. Gotta go for now. Be blessed.

battery

Into The Son

She stole my heart and walked away,Into the mist, into the spray,

Turbulent shores and ocean waves.

My body cold as the grave.
And I saw that light,

The one that wakes your soul at night.

Big, bright, white.

The hope that gives flight.

Lifts up the lost and gives them sight.
I saw her walking late at night,

Down the street, away from me.

With eyes that said playfully,

“Why don’t you come after me?”
Time stood still,

What a thrill.

Challenging my inner will.
Heels clicked down the street,

Heartbeat in my feet,

Warm cheeks, no longer cold.

Wild at heart, forever bold.
Staring down the lion of lies,

That I’m worth less than those eyes.
So I shout, “Here I come!”

Pick up my feet, and I run.

Chasing after her, toward the Son.

  

Beauty & The Beast

Behind those crystal eyes
Lies the real prize.
Porcelain skin shields a fierce heart.
A smile that could tear night apart.

You’re Beauty, and I’m the Beast;
Dreaming of that fellowship feast.

Is there such love to call out the prince?
The one that’s trapped within.

A rough and callous heart
Wishes for love to drink.
Thirsty for the glow you hold.
Gentle, yet bold – what a mold.

Time will heal,
Renew my zeal.

Bolstered confidence,
Assured competence.

Waiting – until I’m sure it’s obvious,
Love is right for us.

Welcome Home

If only it were so simple,
Jump right in, avoid the ripples?
Right to the center and upward,
But first, splintered and haggard.

Rain drops leave impressions,
Wash away impurities,
But first it’s muddy, then it’s clean.

Rivers wind through canyons,
Mortars launch from canons,
All explosive, reckless abandon.

And O sweet passion.
Unpredictable, but a predicament.
Alien, this compassion,
Acts for another’s benefit.

So we trip on the cobblestones.
We’re weak and hope no one knows.

But He does.

And you thought rain-drops caused the canyons!

Yet the tears of His compassion fill the oceans.
But we doubt.
Would He really love me out in the open?
You sure – all my insecurities and coping?

My life is an earthquake,
Every worry, every mistake.
Is there such a savior for my sake?
How much can His heart take?

All of it. All of you, and all of me.
Calling us – even me! – family.

Royalty.

Yes, King. Yes, Lord. Yes, Daddy.

Let the rain come!

Palms up – accept the blessing.
Do away with clenched fists and all this wrestling.

The thing about Love is, it never stops pursuing.

Resilient, hopeful, Light.
Shine bright in this world’s dark night.

Your heart’s aglow – it’s where He’s making His home.

Feel the warmth.

Welcome Home,
You’re not alone.

IMG_1149.JPG

Redeemed

Ashes to ashes

Dust to dust

Soul that thrashes

Heart that rusts

Sin drips in

Rips me apart

Will darkness win?

Will Christ depart?

Shall I break,

Evil will applaud.

All my mistakes

Reveal my façade.

 

Small compromises

Satan’s Enterprises

Business of lying

Knows I’m dying

Doesn’t care I’m buying’

Into fake “styling”

Cooked up and fryin’

My heart, deprivin’

Death now driving.

 

Oh, and I let it!

Chips out and betted

Casino of sensuality embedded

Forgot truth, barely read it.

 

Scripture gone, no cornerstone

Spirit aloft, dryer bones.

 

Unquenched thirst

Chronic hurt

Doctor examined

But abandoned…

At least I thought…

Once again, distraught.

 

O the drama of hearts:

Alive, dead, apart,

Shaken, buried, alarmed,

Still, rattled, charmed.

 

Romantic involvement,

Relational evolvement.

 

Pursuer, now pursued

By the true Groom.

Tried to seek and peruse

Other affections never bloom.

Mighty hands hold

My heart unfolds.

He’s real Love, I’m told.

 

Heart beats quicker

Feelings are thicker.

 

Shame comes

Pride runs

Broken crumbs

Tear drums

 

Washed cheeks,

I’m weak.

 

Love affair,

My fare.

 

Imagine my surprise

And evil’s demise

When grace shined

And Christ dined

With His Bride, unfaithful

But He remained faithful.

 

Affectionate eyes,

Gentle hands,

Removed lies,

Helped me stand.

 

Renewed, not abandoned.

Deep love; enchanted.

 

Restlessness now resting,

Surrender; stopped wrestling.

 

Refreshing waters flow

Spirit breathes, I grow.

 

Planted in His streams,

Grateful He redeems.

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.