No Pain, No Gain (Like You Haven’t Heard That Before)

I’m becoming increasingly convinced that one of the connecting points for many lasting friendships in the world is the endurance of pain, together. There I was sharing a margarita with a friend I hadn’t seen in several months and the conversation drifted to the tougher moments in life and how he could relate to x-y-z and I could relate to a-b-c. Perhaps that’s too simplistic a view, but being the sinful humans we are, we’ve all been hurt and we all have hurt, others. It’s our nature to be selfish, inflict pain, and to find ourselves in the crucible of sanctification, given the choice of asking for forgiveness and saying “F*** them, they’re not worth it.” We’ve all been guilty of choosing the latter at some point in life, but it’s never led anywhere fruitful. Bitterness and hatred is only serving yourself the poisoned wine, rather than giving it to your enemy. You’d be better off attempting to kill them with kindness, wouldn’t you?

Anyways – back to my point – in a world of filtered photos, edited texts, and Facebook posts that are a highlight reel of life…we need that one person to share that one painful story of rejection, anger, pain, hatred, betrayal, longing, addiction, abuse, etc. – and that’s all it takes – and then there’s an iconic moment in every redeeming friendship – a “me too – I’ve been there as well.”

I talked with a coworker about depression this week. Opening up about my need for counseling, I found myself given the opportunity to minister to his soul and providing him with helpful options that I’ve utilized for my own personal growth and journey towards freedom from the hatred and loathing of self.

All it took was an opening up, and a “hey, me too man.”

So I guess all of that is to say, you can filter your pictures and keep your Facebook as clean and crisp as you want, but my life is about to get as real as it gets.

I’ve spent enough of my time worrying about reputation, status, money, and what other people think about me, but as long as God says “well done, my good and faithful servant” and my wife is excited to see and kiss me when I get home, then I’ve lived life well. The rest doesn’t matter and it always works out in the end.

It’s amazing how much time we spend chasing peace and perfection, and some of the most peaceful, perfect, love-filled moments are those that are spent being honest and broken, and allowing love and grace to cover over them.

Tim Keller writes of a czar who adopted a son. The adopted son had squandered his wealth and was contemplating suicide due to his recklessness… (sounds like the Prodigal Son in a way)

“Because he couldn’t cover his gambling debts, he began to embezzle from his regiments funds. One night he was sitting in the tent looking at the books and he realized that his embezzlement was about to be discovered. He could hide it no longer from the accountants. He sat drinking heavily and prepared to kill himself. He had the revolver by his side and he took a few more drinks to strengthen his resolve for the suicide. But the drink was too potent and he passed out on the table.

That night the czar was doing what he often did. Disguised as a simple soldier, he was walking through the camp and the ranks, trying to assess the morale of his army, hearing what he could hear. He walked into his foster son’s tent and saw him slumped over the book. He read the book and realized what he had done and what he was about to do.

When the young man awoke hours later, to his surprise the revolver was gone. Then he saw a letter by his hand. To his shock, it was a promissory note, “I, the czar, will pay the full amount from my own personal funds to make up the difference found in this book.” And it was sealed with the czar’s personal seal. The czar had seen the young man’s sin clearly, the full dimensions of what he had done. But he had covered and paid for the sin personally.”

The crazy part is that Jesus does this for you and me, daily. We constantly squander the wealth and the gifts that He’s provided us with. We hurt our wonderful parents with our insensitivity to their wisdom, we hurt our spouse with our stubbornness to their pleas for wiser behavior and moral conduct, we disappoint our elders as they prod us toward holiness, and we discourage our brothers with our apathy – yet Jesus PAID our debt. He said, “I see what you’ve done and I know it fully. The price has been paid. Now come back home.”

I think my life’s calling is to call other’s home. I see what you’ve done – I’ve done some stupid shit too. Now let me pay the price for you, so that you can come back home. You don’t belong in the underworld anymore. Let me provide you with some clean linens and prepare a guest-room for you. You’re an esteemed guest, a high ranking official, and adopted heir to the King – grace and peace and love covers over you.

So friends, come home. Stop running. Stop hiding. Stop chasing success. Stop searching for happiness at the bottom of the bottle or at the sound of any empty pill bottle. Stop clicking through videos and images of women that don’t belong to you (I shouldn’t even look at my wife that way). Stop shopping until you drop. Stop buying friendships with your money. Stop connecting with others through your self-loathing.

Just stop.

You were worth it. You are worth it.

So worth it that he paid your debt in full and covered you in the finest clothes. “What we should say to each other on our wedding day is, ‘As great as you look today, someday you will stand with me before God in such beauty that it will make these clothes look like rags.” (Tim Keller, “The Meaning Of Marriage”)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Thought outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our slight momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

no pain no gain

Dear Friend

Dear Friend,

I love writing letters. They’re my absolute favorite form of writing – the easiest method for me to portray my heart for another. So I’m going to write you a letter, today.

Marriage is awesomely hard and beautiful. I highly recommend it. To avoid marriage for the sake of maintaining the “juvenile liberties” I mentioned in my “I Decided” blog the day before our wedding is, well, juvenile. If you’re ready to man/woman up, then buckle up and commit yourself. “But don’t expect it to be easy.” I heard it a million times in pre-marital counseling, bars and coffee-shops, at work, and just about anywhere else I would find myself out. “Marriage is going to be way harder than you think.”

“Thanks…” I’d think to myself, wishing for one time in my life that someone would hand me an empty hearted, positive platitude of “it’ll be perfect.”

I’m learning that ‘perfect’ is fake and that Allie and I are beautifully broken, but wholly redeemed, renewed, and renovated by Jesus. Now THAT sounds like one of those platitudes. An empty Christian cliche when speaking of relationships. But I’m absolutely serious. It’s when her and I are both edgy, spent, and ready to fight or retreat from one another that Jesus makes every bit of difference. We look at each other, apologize for the hurtful thing we said or did, ask for forgiveness, and then take it to Jesus. Or maybe we don’t even know what exactly is wrong at the moment, but we pray about it and the Holy Spirit starts to counsel us. “Hey Justin…remember when you made that judgmental remark about her makeup…that’s why she’s sad.”

You’ll never find a better mirror for your selfishness than living in communion with another. You’ll also never have a better chance to be more giving, selfless, and kind. My wife is awesome – I’d say she’s on the giving, selfless, and kind side of the spectrum about 90% of the time, and that’s not exaggerating. I admire her for her servant-heartedness and her tender and gentle care for my heart and soul when I’ve often done little to deserve such pure, innocent, genuine, earnest love. It’s beautiful and screams of Jesus work in her heart and life. Her life proclaims His name; her actions and hard work, her evangelism.

And that’s worth it all – ya know? That’s why I recommend getting married if you’re willing to give up your individual “freedom” – because it’s within the “confines” of marriage that I’m gradually learning so much about true freedom. To lay there naked and feel loved, attractive, and securely know that she’s not going anywhere is Cloud 9 awesome. To pull back the veil and let her further into my heart, while also initially scary and difficult, is always so rewarding as she always finds a way to love and accept me exactly where I’m at. And then, by the natural Law Of Reciprocity within relationships, I get to know more of her.

Do we cry? Heck yes! Do we disagree? For sure, especially when one of us is in our selfish-mode and not thinking about what’s best for the collective.

But friends, when we are in community with Jesus and with each other and everything is firing on all cylinders and we are more concerned about the wellbeing of the other than of ourselves, that’s when the fireworks start. That’s intimacy like you’ve never experienced before. Far better, hotter, more pure and beautiful than anything you’ve ever found within the sphere of dating and “friends.” I’m so, so glad that I Decided to marry her.

Marriage gives you a lot. It gives you love, someone that always has your back, a partner-in-crime/partner-on-mission; in my case, it gives me amazing, home-cooked dinners and pre-cooked breakfast burritos and a newfound ability to make homemade lattes because my wife is a beautiful (part-time/seasonal) barista (was always a ‘fantasy’ of mine – to marry a barista – and I did…God is too good to be true sometimes). What fun we have!

Marriage also takes a lot. One of those being your time. Part of the purpose of writing this “Dear Friend” letter is to share my gratefulness for marriage and to be a cheerleader for others to dive into the growth-vehicle that is commitment. The other aspect is to apologize for my inability to be as fully-vested in friendships as I was prior to saying, “I do.” As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I can’t always reply to text-messages within 5 seconds like I used to. And I can’t make as many phone-calls as I used to friends that live in different places. That’s because, working in sales, I’m tied to my phone for the 9-10 hours a day I’m at work anyways. So I’m pretty tired of it by the time I get home. Also, because Allie deserves as much of my heart and attention-span as I can offer. And, having moved into a place with Allie only 10-15 minutes away from work makes it difficult to call a friend I haven’t connected with in a while and then shoo them away 10 minutes later when I’ve reached home and my pretty wife is waiting inside to kiss me. I love you guys and all, but man-to-man, those kisses take a higher priority a majority of the time. ;P

So friends, if you’re married, kiss your spouse and tell them why you love them. Think back to why you married each other and renew your commitment to increased intimacy. Love them because they need it. You’re not always going to want to, but it’s then that Christ shines through you – when you choose to love them anyways.

And if you’re not married, get honest with yourself. What is it that you’re afraid of? The lie I always told myself is that I wasn’t ready. Well duh, no one is ever “ready.” If I had waited until I was “ready” and perfectly pruned and refined, Allie would still be waiting at the altar. Perhaps it’s because your heart is tied up in the lie that you’ve got more freedom outside of commitment. I promise you that I’m learning every day how untrue that lie was and how much freer and safer and more content and loved I feel within the covenant of marriage. Get honest with a brother in Christ and share your heart with them, pull the weeds of your insecurities and your sin problems, and then pursue a woman worth loving and committing yourself to. And then get in the fight for bringing His Kingdom to Earth together.

My letters get long sometimes. Thanks for reading (and for loving me) anyways.

Your Friend,
Justin Meyer

dear friend letter

Better Together

Perfectly imperfect but I’m worth it.

Struggling a lot with self-respect,

Go to great lengths and to my pride – protect.

Come at me with your suggestions,

Accusations of past aggressions.

The broken parts of me – obsessed with.

Amazing how my mind is messed with.

 

You’d think their words would roll right off of me,

But somehow they lay heavy, on top of me.

Can’t breathe. Can’t dream. Can’t win.

Defeated, distraught; now count to ten.

Asleep like a sedative,

These wrestlings, repetitive.

 

Engaged, but enraged.

Not with the Bride but with the Groom.

In my heart I haven’t left enough room.

All about me and not about Him.

Recognizing the need for humility,

Mentors and accountability.

Seeking that stability,

Prayerful over my ability.

 

Hopeful that this frustration,

Continues to lead toward maturation.

 

King of Kings clashing with the Prince of Death,

Spiritual warfare that takes my breath.

Feel my heart pounding inside my chest,

No sleep for the weary and little rest.

 

And yet those green eyes meet my blues,

All she has to say is, “I choose you.”

“I love you and you’re worth it,

Nail it on the cross, you’re not worthless.

Handsome and strong,

You write your own song.

Passionate melodies and fierce beats,

Not another man for me on the streets.

You’re mine. I’m yours. And we’re His.”

 

I’m grateful for all of this,

Answering that call of His.

 

She melts my gruffness,

Increases my toughness.

 

Propels me and compels me,

To face my fears and never flee.

And chase the fear of failure back to Hell,

Cling close to God and each other and we’ll do well.

 

So yes – I’m scared and yes, I’m beat.

But with her by my side, we will defeat.

 

Overcome and prayerfully conquer,

Anything that’s kept us at arms-length from the altar.

Two separate hearts, but better together,

Our love, a true treasure.

 

Indebted to the debtor,

But not in debt.

Rich in love and beauty,

I’ve wept;

So many joyful tears,

Over this last year.

 

This girl is too good for me,

But she’s not.

She’s just what I need,

Amazingly crafted and attractive.

 

God’s gift from Himself to each other,

I love her.

better-together

The Mirage

Sin is the ultimate mirage – the promise of the fresh, flowing waters of freedom and the pristine beaches of wonder. And perhaps it is – for a moment. But then we realize there’s no fresh water in sight, and that even the deepest of salty seas cannot quench our thirst. The rays of sun that glimmered so bright and mesmerizing moments before, now become white-hot to our skin that lacks protection, as we’ve purposefully walked away from the shadow of His Wings.

mirage

As a young-adult, it is easy to desire the “freedom” of the outside world – my parents are extremely loving and have provided a quality life for me, but their “restrictions” (safe rules/guidelines/suggestions) irk me, as I desire a greater deal of autonomy. However, while I’m still at home, I believe I’m beginning to wise-up just slightly, and realizing that many of their exhortations come with good and wise intentions. For example, budgeting and setting money aside, rather than blowing a paycheck on the weekends, or that fast-food-for-breakfast habit that needs to be kicked in the butt.

Sometimes, that’s what we need – isn’t it? A good kick in the butt can go a long way.

Earlier this afternoon, I was walking around the city with a friend of mine and he began to speak some truth into my life, that I didn’t exactly WANT to hear, but NEEDED to hear. “Ya know, Justin, all of these goals that you have (losing-weight, financial independence, marriage someday, writing) are entirely within your control. You can keep telling yourself that things will happen sometime in the future, and that you can buckle down later, but really, that’s just a form of self-procrastination.” Of course, I did what most guys do when their pride takes a bullet, and remained quiet on the way back to where my truck was parked. However, his words lingered in the air, in my heart, and rung true within the fabric of my soul.

Apathy is another form of sin. An “I don’t care” mentality is childish. As a teenager, I had an “I don’t care” mentality toward fashion. In reality it was a self-defense mechanism as I had to wear a back-brace for Scoliosis and couldn’t wear the well-fitting, stylish clothing that my peers could. Then, of course, there was the matter of quitting athletics to enter the working world, and gaining the wonderfully plentiful extra weight an American young-adult has no trouble putting on, if an “I don’t care” mentality exists even the slightest bit in their diet and exercise routine. There’s a reason the LORD says what He does in Revelation 3:15-17,

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

A lukewarm heart, mind, and soul is unhealthy, and the God we serve despises it. He has the same reaction to our apathy, that we may have when taking a drink of warm soda – he spits it out. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to not be spit out. Amen?

Procrastination has the false promise of beginning tomorrow. If we buy into this lie, then our success will always be on the way “tomorrow”, and tomorrow will never come. Instead, we will reap what we sow – laziness will reap the reward of hunger for our “unattainable” dreams/goals/visions.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8)

Rather, I’d like to pursue the LORD and work towards the dreams and desires He has placed on my heart, and soak in, believe in, and live out, the words of Life written in blood throughout the Bible.

I mentioned earlier that I didn’t know much about fashion. Well, that’s starting to change, and I’m becoming a man that cares (it turns out that athletic shorts and t-shirts are primarily for – well – being athletic). My words of advice on being fashionable? Dress for success, but don’t let your success depend upon your ability to keep up with fashion. Working diligently is always “in”.

Friends, stay away from the mirage of sin – I’ve mentioned primarily the sins of procrastination, apathy, and a lukewarm heart, but this also applies to sinful indulgences of lust, greed, drunkenness, disbelief, and much more. If the Spirit of the LORD rests upon your soul and you are born anew in Jesus, then should the fruits of the spirit not be present in your life?

Lust promises the satisfaction of being wanted, but leaves one lonely and thirsty for further “intimacy” – which, by the way, is entirely counterfeit – there is no real intimacy in sensual greed. Alcohol CAN (I agree that it is not ALWAYS used this way), when abused, be falsely utilized as an aide for numbing pain and drowning out sorrows, or perhaps even as a catalyst for confidence, where an underlying self-doubt remains the underlying issue – all the while, it provides a vain form of makeup for the real blemishes, which need real attention. Lacking confidence (something I sincerely understand the struggle in), is essentially doubting the LORD’s goodness and ability to redeem, your life. Hence, why all of sin is such a mirage – the promise of something great, with the reward of brokenness and continued thirst.

Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7: 37b-38) There is Living Water capable of quenching your thirst. Do all that is within your power to avoid The Mirage and head for the true waters of our LORD and Savior.

“Passion conveys the gritty determination to finish the task at hand. That’s why the final days of Jesus’ life are known as Passion Week. Passion is about doing whatever it takes to get what’s most important to you. And what we wanted most was for Jesus’ name to be echoed throughout the land.” (Louie Giglio, “Passion”)

The mirage is out there, but so is real life and real victory. There is indeed an opponent of our pursuit of LIFE, but there is also the very Giver of Life waging war for the redemption of our souls. Find your courage in Him. Live with passion.

Numbness

What is this numbness that pummels us?
The darkness so voluptuous, it’s crumpled us.
We’ve pressed it into the closet,
But know it’s there, if we’re honest.

All covered-up like them Covergirls,
Blemishes hidden with some other pearls.
Glossy and bright, but still rocks.
It’ll return to dust, check your clocks.

Do you see the foolery?
Sin has made a tool of me.

So now I need more,
Then I want less.
What a chore,
I’m restless.
Heart torn,
What a mess.

Life or death, death of life?
Strife or breath, how to decide?

We can play dress-up,
Make-believe and pretend,
Or admit we’re messed-up,
Find relief and mend.

Christ, come quick,
We’re sick.
Praying for recovery,
Praise His grace, it covers thee.

Eyes On Christ

“Our precious Christ can never be made too much of.” (Charles Spurgeon)

Too often I think too little of God. I think to myself, “Well, sure, He is the LORD, He died and rose again. I confess Him with my lips and believe in Him in my heart…But…Can He really come through for me in this situation?” Can He truly, fully redeem my sinful nature? Is it possible to actually attain holiness? Will my mind actually be renewed? And then, I find myself once again deeply considering everything that I lack, whether it be financial resources, abundant character, social stature, Ryan Gosling’s looks, and other silly things. I say, “silly things”, because they are just that, silly. Why do I concern myself with such futile things? They are such distractions from what we should truly be meditating on.

The God of the universe loves me. Give that a minute to sink in. Let me write it again this way…The God of the universe loves [you]. (Incomprehensible, right?)

But why? How could God possibly love you, or me, for that matter? Do we deserve it? Have I earned my salvation, or His love, by attending church, being heavily involved in leadership, writing for the glory of God, teaching the Word of God in a house-church context, and being invested in discipleship relationships? Absolutely not!

My attempts of righteousness could never earn the love of God, nor could they buy me a ticket on Toby Mac’s fabled “J-Train” to Heaven in the final-days. So what good are these actions? Well, they are good in the sense that they are an expression of my love and gratitude for a God who is in the business of Redemption. They are good because they help me pursue my Father, as He has certainly never stopped pursuing my heart, despite my constant forgetfulness of all the good he has already done, is doing, and intends to do, for my benefit, and for the benefit of His Kingdom. In fact, despite my love-affair with sin, He still loves me. Devoted to me (and you), His Bride, He will not take lightly His vows to pursue and make a place for us in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Back to my original question, Why does God love you and I?

Because He is Good. So good. In the context of our earn-it-all culture, I’m not sure it is even possible for us to fully comprehend an unconditional love that breeches all of our set-in-stone expectations for relationships. The way you roll your eyes at Him in prayer, the way you speak poorly of Him and perhaps even deny Him throughout the day among your peers and coworkers, the last time you willfully chose to sin over fleeing to His arms, and all other acts of infidelity and treason against a Sovereign God, paid for on the Cross by His beloved Son, that we may have Life, and that we may be fully loved.

Once again, God is so Good.

Have we lost sight of this simple revelation?

The revelation that God loves us. Truly, He LOVES US! David Crowder Band’s, “How He Loves Us” is a brilliant praise-song on just how much He loves us. “If His love is an ocean, then we’re all sinking.” Consider the vastness of the ocean of His grace. The rains of His mercy are like a torrential downpour, relentlessly washing away our dirt, refreshing our hearts, and the end-result is the bearing of much fruit, raised up by the Life of the Son!

Friends, please join me in taking our eyes off of ourselves. Please walk with me on the narrow-road of praising the LORD in ALL circumstances and holding onto the joy of the Spirit in ANY situation. An exhortation that I have always given the men that I minister to is a simple three-word-phrase, “Eyes On Christ”. If we truly return our eyes to Savior Jesus, the way in which we view the world around us and our own lives will change drastically. We will find ourselves genuinely loving others, enjoying the labor of diligence, and rejoicing in the fruit of planting the seeds of Gospel-centered living in the lives of others. Suddenly, all of the worries about yourself, will have faded away, and been replaced by praise, by gratefulness for all the LORD has already done and will continue to do.

He has not forsaken you. He will not forsake you. He cannot forsake you. It is not in His nature to abandon one of His children. I will leave you with this Facebook post that I shared with my friends on April 9th to consider:

“People often say, ‘I feel distant from God’, well, I promise you He hasn’t gone anywhere.” (Ben Stout) It’s in His nature to relentlessly pursue your heart. He has not given up on you. He has not left you. The question then becomes, Why do you run?

Eyes On Christ,

Justin Meyer

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.

Silent Killer

Mascara runs down her cheeks,
She’s been crying for weeks
Heart shattered like glass
Views herself as an outcast

The man to which she’s wed
Cheated on her; such dread.
Not by flesh but by screen
Laptop adultery; how obscene.

He’s “justified” by majority
It’s absolute absurdity.
Something beautiful, now broken.
Unaware of the tears she’s chokin’.

Think it’s natural desire
Something pure, now a liar.
Sexuality was created
Immorality is manipulated.

Unyielding urge called addiction
No comprehension of such affliction
Destroys natural perception
Not realizing such discretion.

It’s a virus, it’s a killer.
Sneaks in, tears down pillars.
Relationships crumble,
Reduced to rubble.

Think it’s hidden, history deleted.
Before God; excuses depleted.

Willfully sinning against the King
Forgot the covenant of the ring.

Keep it secret, hide it away
But it will be exposed someday.

Awake men, put it away.
Such foolish games we play.
Flirting with death, hoping for life;
She’s fighting for breath, look at your wife.

Perhaps you’re single, so it’s “okay”
You’ll break the chains “someday”
Delayed obedience is disobedience
Apathy, one of many ingredients.

There no room for procrastination
Eliminate this counterfeit infatuation.

How many hearts have to break,
For one to see what’s at stake?

You’re as free as you desire to be,
Redemptive power granted on the tree,
It came at a cost, but He paid the fee.

Convinced yet? Where should you start?
As with all things, starts with the heart.

Prayer is a powerful gift,
Its’ power is beyond measure.
Holy Spirit, come swift,
Direct hearts to true treasure.

Intimacy is found embedded
In the LORD and King of Kings,
To whom we’re indebted.
Of freedom you’ll surely sing.

The ending to our story is a thriller,
Darkness is destroyed, Light wins!
No memory of our silent killer,
Totally redeemed from our sins!

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