Ramblings Of The Heart

I’ve been stuck in a writing rut recently – hence few new publications in the last couple months. There are many factors at play – a new relationship, an increasingly crappy laptop, and general insecurities that deter me from sharing my heart publicly.

In the past it’s become apparent that as a writer, sometimes you have to press through and just start writing. So that’s what I’m doing right now. Starting to write, and hoping that what comes forth from my fingertips makes some sort of impact on your hearts, or at least challenges you to think a little bit more.

Fair warning – there’s a lot on my mind, so this will be one of those hodgepodge blogs where you’re like, “Wow – Justin thinks too much.” Click to the exit button now while you still can.

First off, I never knew it was physically possible to miss another human-being so much when they’re not right there beside you. Dating Katie has been such an excellent blessing in my life and only as ‘time-consuming’ as I’ve allowed it to be – because I just freaking love spending time with her. She’s the gentlest, sweetest girl I’ve met and certainly “a looker” as some would say. I’m a man of great relational wealth.

Relationships, however, open up your eyes to your general insecurities. With my heart quite tethered to hers now, it makes me a lot more vulnerable. An available heart is a vulnerable one – and our hearts have become very available to one another. Therefore, it makes our words, actions, and body-language all the more potent. I’ve been on a huge learning-curve (as this is my first serious dating relationship) and made a lot of mistakes and she’s been incredibly gracious and patient with me. The bottom line – loving someone is hard, but we’d gladly tell you it’s been worth it.

One area of insecurity that I’ve been wrestling through is the inability to control the future, or predict what will happen. “Will we fall out of love?” (Whatever the heck that means…) “Will I remain attractive to her?” “Am I too much?” (The answer to this one, is probably “yes” most of the time. But she endures the race with perseverance. Ha!)

And then there’s been non-relationship-related insecurity, such as, “When will a more lucrative opportunity open up within my company (or elsewhere)?” “When will I start seeing progress towards some of the goals I’ve set for myself?” “What truly makes me an adult?” “What defines me as a man?” #LifesManyQuestions

It’s been angst-filled season of life. I haven’t come across an “Adult Life for Dummies” manual yet, but if I were the author, it’d have “25 – The Hardest Mental Year Of Your Life” as one of the titles. The quarter-life crisis is a very real thing. I’m well into the second quarter of my life with very little to show for it. These are the defining years – what will a healthy definition of “success” look like for me? When I’m in the reflecting years of my life – what will I look back upon and be proud of? How can I actively provide for a family someday? How do I plan to become more independent for myself right now? Honestly – all of these questions – can cause me a great deal of anxiety sometimes, because I don’t often feel like I have the answers.

Then there’s been the issue of the spiritual. I feel it’s been a particularly dry season of life when it comes to my Christian faith. I’m beyond the point in life where happy-go-lucky platitudes will suffice and frustrated with the politics of the capital-C, Church, in general. “Our way is better than yours” and “if they’re gonna be ‘missional’, then we’re gonna be focused on growth for the ‘mature’ believers”. I empathize with the concerns expressed by the homosexual community – and wonder how one protects the sanctity of marriage, while also loving their neighbor. It’s all quite complicated and I find most of us (including myself) are far too quick to judge and cast out others for their differences. I understand that group dynamics dictate that there be common goals, objectives, and beliefs, but I wonder what a collective group of loving, faith-based individuals really looks like. Has the American church figured it out yet? How does the Church look more like a loving family and less like a politically oriented campaign – often backstabbing one another? I also deeply desire to see the power of the Cross at work – the gifts of the spirit readily available and shining light into darkness – but at the same time I’m weary of the hype created by charismatic groups like IHOPKC, etc. and the dangers involved with making that the primary focus.

Despite the build of deterrents within my heart toward the Church, I concede that there is a desperate need for community within the heart of man – what more healthy place can that be found than within the context of Christ’s love and the church. I also concede and find myself awestruck to the compelling and gravitational pull of God’s immense power as displayed by my Good Friday thoughts on social-media this morning:

“Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two.” (Matthew 27:50a) The symbolism here is potent – now ANYONE can stand before the Father, because Jesus is mediating on their behalf. “…The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened…” (27:50b) His glory could not be contained.

Finally, despite my inner frustrations/critical-thinking about the world, I’ve increasingly seen the value of friendships within my life. There are people in my life that I can talk with about anything and they’ll LISTEN. They have no agenda – item they’re selling, idea they’re pushing, or want they’re vetting for – they simply love me. And I very much love them. For the few and proud close confidants – thanks for your unwavering support and increasingly valuable depth.

Wrestling Through Life With You,

Justin Meyer

Questions

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

Coffee-Shop Devotion

I love coffee. If you think about it, coffee can be quite the loyal companion, it wakes you up in the morning, stays with you through the late-night study sessions, holds close friends together through a medium which can be used for deep conversations or lighthearted banter, and um…it tastes great! Let’s face it, coffee is a fundamental aspect of the American culture. But even more noticeably it’s a larger part of the Christian culture within the United States.

Walk into any coffee-shop in Manhattan, KS (where I currently reside), in Olathe, KS (my hometown), or anywhere else (where you live), and I can almost GUARANTEE you that there will be at least 1-2 individuals in there with their Bible cracked open or casually reading one of John Piper’s latest books. That’s great! I love that people have a hunger for the Word of God, are active in fellowship with one another, and are seeking to think more deeply on topics of theology that can be daunting without the assist of a great book, etc.

But here’s something to consider…Do you and I love coffee(shops) more than we love the individuals around us? Is it possible that we love coffee more than Jesus?

Now, at first glance, that just sounds utterly ridiculous, right? I feel slightly foolish suggesting such a thing as a plausible concept. But humor me for just a moment and continue reading for the sake of me developing my argument a bit more. There are many people that I know who can be found inside a coffee-shop on a daily basis, or at least several times a week. It’s literally a religious practice to them; much like a devout Catholic attends mass and visits the church many times a week. On top of the amount of time we spend inside the church/cathedral, we’re also spending quite possibly 10% or MORE of our income on this luxury a week, much like a tithe. See where I’m going with this?

What if coffee-shops and coffee in general have become a greater devotion for us than our relationships with Christ? The reality is that our spirits are thirsty, but not for coffee, they’re thirsty for the living waters that only the Holy Spirit is capable of providing us with.

Am I against coffee-shops? Absolutely not. In fact, I’m one of those individuals you’ll likely run into at Starbucks and other venues. Here’s my point, I don’t want anything to begin taking precedence over my relationship with Christ, or to be hindering my ability to reach out to and serve others within my community. So if cutting back on coffee is what it takes to lead just one more person into the Kingdom of God, I want to do it. I simply invite you to evaluate your heart alongside me and to live righteously at all costs.

Finally, I leave you with this thought I had earlier, which I will be seeking to apply to my daily life: “Attempting to justify oneself is simply an excuse for not living above reproach in the first place. So let’s live like Christ, man up, and attempt to pursue holiness with every fiber of our being.”

Selfless

How many hours in a day do we spend thinking about, or working on, our plans? We have to-do lists, calendars, planners, Facebook events, etc that we must constantly remind ourselves of in order to keep up with the whirlwind lives of our peers. It’s a competitive world out there. Information Technology (IT) companies spend a lot of money on figuring out ways to increase download speed, the quickness of receiving data on cell phones, etc. In fact, a recent commercial by one of the major cell phone companies talks about how things were “so 27 seconds ago” (they had already received the info. before their friends).

At the white-knuckle pace our lives move; it’s a wonder we have a chance to interact with anyone in the first place. No wonder so many Americans and “first world” countries have increasing amounts of people suffering from depression and other emotional/mental disorders. We all have a desire for human interaction, human contact, a desire for someone to care about us, to notice that perhaps we’re not having the sunniest of days. Or, maybe we simply want them to notice the new haircut or pair of shoes we’ve recently acquired. The sad truth is that often, each of us finds ourselves in the backdrop of everyone else’s lives. To use a movie reference, we’ve all become extras, instead of playing supporting roles or co-stars. Essentially, we have no real impact on the film, or the lives of our peers.

We must ask ourselves the question: Is this how life was meant to be? Is it better for us to continually compete and step on each other’s toes or is it perhaps better for us to live lives that are counter-cultural, and in humility, serve those around us?

Think about the last time someone served you; did something out of the ordinary and went out of their way to make your day better…It made an impact, didn’t it? You still remember! The sad thing is that you may not be able to remember because we’re all sadly so incredibly selfish.

So, I have this amazing friend Jake. Words truthfully could not do justice to the relationship that has been cultivated between the two of us over the past couple years as brothers in Christ and as very close friends. Anyways, recently he’s been sharing stories with me about a young teenager that attended Camp War Eagle (a summer camp for underprivileged kids) where he was on staff a summer or two ago. Jed, the teenage camper is giving his life away for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A few months ago he was texting Jake about how he realized his computer had become his idol and he was going to destroy it. So, he and his youth pastor literally destroyed his computer; that he had saved up for and paid for on his own. But he didn’t want anything hindering him from following the LORD wholeheartedly! The story doesn’t end there though, recently this young disciple of Jesus has decided that he wants to give his life to missions and would like to do missionary work in Haiti, the inner city of Chicago, and wherever else the LORD ends up leading him. In fact, he’s so serious about it, that he’s already began fundraising, not only for himself, but for some friends to go with him to Haiti in order to serve the LORD.

As Jake told me these stories, I was incredibly challenged. How easy it is for one to talk about how great it would be to serve God wholeheartedly and yet how few and far between are those individuals who put that faith into action. Jed has his heart set on leaving the legacy of Christ behind. He’s not focused on accumulating wealth, finding a wife as soon as possible, or playing it safe here in America for the rest of his life. No, he wants to literally give up his comfort and pleasures so that he can give his life for the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that perhaps a few may be saved! That, my friends, is incredibly selfless.

So here’s the challenging thing to think about…what would the world look like if we had the same faith and obedience that Jed has? I’m truly inspired by this young man’s sacrifice and wholehearted devotion to following his Heavenly Father with every fiber of his being. It is truly phenomenal. I’m drawn to this passage when praying over this topic:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”(Matthew 6:19-21)

If you are surely in love with Christ, then are you finding your treasure in His Kingdom? Or, are you attempting to rule a kingdom of your own. If the latter is your choice, then I must warn you that moth and rust will destroy your wealth and that once your heart is no longer beating and your lungs no longer breathing, then your life will suddenly have ZERO value. Your net worth will be $0.00 after it is all divided amongst your living descendants.

HOWEVER, if you were to live a life that was selfless; gave up everything and followed Jesus Christ with every bit of strength the Holy Spirit blesses you with…I would argue that your life will certainly hold much value. So much value in fact that it could not be measured in terms of money or points, but rather it would priceless; as you’d saved souls and brought them into the Kingdom of Heaven saving them from the fiery furnace of Hell! What could possibly be more worthwhile on this earth than doing that?

Won’t You?

Won’t you come find me at the bottom of the well?

Won’t you search for me and break the spell?

Won’t you rescue me from this hell?

Won’t you restore me to where you dwell?

Won’t you make my heart beat once again?

Won’t you remind Satan it’s you that wins?

Won’t you take my hand and walk with me?

Won’t you take my soul and set it free?

Won’t you renew a shattered spirit?

Won’t you allow the broken hearts to hear it?

Won’t you use me to share the news?

Won’t you use me to break old views?

Won’t you come back now, mighty to save?

Won’t you snatch hearts out of the grave?

Won’t you answer prayers from the weak?

Won’t you restore my friends that are meek?

Won’t you remember the promises you made?

Won’t you give us rest under your angel wing’s shade?

Won’t you meet me, here where I stand?

Won’t you save Abraham’s descendants; as grains of sand?

Won’t you answer these questions that fright?

Won’t you open our eyes and give them sight?

Won’t you quiet my soul and give me rest?

Won’t you hear the cries of my heaving chest?

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