Dare to Dream

Jesus always concerned himself with the heart and the depths of a man’s soul, yet rather than follow suit, we tend to focus on tweaking behaviors. Under the guise of a “fixed” exterior, the interior (heart/soul) may lay in ruins, and perhaps no one would ever know.

Because, at our current social state, it would be “better” for his esteemed social “resume” to appear “good”, rather than real. And heaven forbid, his real, just might be broken. Perhaps, for a season, even bad.

It would be interesting to dream of a church and its’ esteemed individuals fueled by a deep love, rather than a rattling fear of not measuring up to the esteemed expectations of family/friends/pastors – to be driven by a real relationship with the Cross.

I simply dare to dream that perhaps our attitudes toward church – perhaps our uptight nature toward dealing with one another’s quirks, faults, and brokenness just might be faulty. I cannot see how keeping people’s questions at bay is of help, or how keeping “the worldly” out of our lives could be of any value. Did not Jesus, Himself, hang out, almost exclusively (aside from his disciples) with the downtrodden and uncertain – the unabashedly sinful? Even more so, he almost taunted the Pharisees for their esteemed “perfection” – they had an attitude that if everything on the outside was clean and in good condition, then they were good. Yet, Jesus still points to their hearts…

Let’s say, for example, that one is struggling with doubts about the Sovereignty of God. Presently, due to the social pressures and expectations of others, it would be much easier for him to remain quiet and to pretend that he was not struggling. But wouldn’t it be healthier not only for that individual, but also for the body (Church) as a whole, to work through those questions, together?

But then the Attitude of Answers come into play. You, yourself, have never struggled with “doubts about Sovereignty”, so you have all of the illustrations, references, and words to assist this “lost” man. At the heart of you desire to help, is it that you really esteem the best-interests of the confused man, or is it that you’ve longed for a position of authority over another? I can honestly answer that I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum – the latter obviously being unhealthy and often hurtful for both parties involved.

It would simply be interesting to go into a deep conversation with another without the attitude of “who will win?” Perhaps it would be better for us to admit that we do not always have the answers. Or that, even if/when we do, might it just be better to walk alongside another as they wrestle – rather than pressing, pulling, and torquing their heart to match out predispositions?

What a joyous and connecting conversation it might be if we allowed ourselves a level playing-field, without the ideal that someone is an outsider (i.e. I visit with a prostitute and strike up a conversation – why can I not converse as their equal as opposed to their superior?). Imagine the dramatically different friendships we might have.

“Flame” (my previous post/poem) was my heart’s cry for this attitude of transparency and realness among the Church, and even across the (“worldly”) community as a whole.

“I’ve hungered for this honesty,
The honest me.
Better to admit your doubt,
Than to fake it out.
Better to share your hurt and uncertainty,
Than to feign joy and assurance – see?”

So, I dare to dream of a body of believers that wrestle together – that dare to share their faults without shaking in fear of the condemnation that may come their way. I dare to wonder what it might be like if I’d come to the Word out of a desire for hope and love, rather than in submission due to fear/anxiety.

What if someone said, “Hey guys, I haven’t really been able to see the Lord working in my life lately. It feels like my prayers aren’t being heard.” – and the Church’s response was, “Tell us more – I think I’ve been through that before as well.” It would seem to me, to be a much more welcoming, even helpful, approach than to simply dig deep into the purse of verse-memorization and hyper-spiritual sentiments.

This is what I’m wrestling through – thanks for learning with me. Will you also dare to dream?

dream

Can You Handle The Truth?

The famed movie quote, “You can’t handle the truth!” often reflects our reaction toward spiritual absolute-truth. Can you really handle the Truth? Perhaps you can “take it”; you can listen to it and let it reverberate within; but truly, can you handle the Truth? Can you allow The Truth to break you free from the shackles of pride and self-righteous thinking that keep one from humility and confession? You may even “know” The Truth, but has that changed who you are at the core, or has it simply translated into a few behavioral-changes that seek only to convince yourself that you are okay? But you are not okay, because you have not fully accepted The Truth. You have not yet come to grips with the reality of the Gospel; that you NEED Jesus and that He is truly the ONLY way to the Father. You have yet to repent, to recant your wrongdoing, and to seek a new way of living, yet you wave the flag of “truth”, as if its’ banner, its’ symbolism, will in and of itself save you. But it will not.

So I ask again, can you handle the Truth? Have you read the hallowed words of Scripture and found yourself WANTED? The depravity of your sin, has that broken your heart and brought you to your knees before an Almighty and Just God, to seek after the blood of His Son, that it may pay the penalty for your sins, that you may be truly saved?

Hard-hitting Truth is often absent in a culture of comfort and wanting others to like us. The desire to allure, to be attractive to others, is an overwhelming pull and tug on each of our hearts. Yet, sometimes, the heart of man must be offended; it must be shaken that it cannot ignore the absence of its’ obedience to a God that calls for Holiness. I do not desire to teach a lesson on the Holiness of God, or the Holiness that we are called to, but His Word does proclaim, “Be holy as I am Holy!” But Isaiah, the prophet, found himself terrified of the sheer GLORY of God and that he was a man of unclean lips. This prophet knew that his “righteousness” was no match for Righteousness itself, God.

Can you handle the Truth?

There is a startling reality that many of your hearts are far from the LORD currently. To be transparent, my heart has been distant as of late. It out of sheer obedience, that I continue to write this, and to trust that The Spirit will use it, and will continue to work in my own heart through this message. But are we okay with this? Are we okay with being far from the LORD? Are we okay with allowing The Truth to continue to be shaped, molded, changed, and edited by the culture, by what our flesh desires, or do we truly want The Truth? Scripture promises that the Holy Spirit is with us, that He is a Counselor that desires to guide us. Do we want to be guided, or do we want to attempt to persuade The Spirit in the direction that our distracted hearts wish themselves to wander?

One could argue that I presented far more questions than answers and to them I would say, “You are right, but in this case I believe it to be more effective.” However, in case the concept/theme that I’m attempting to share with you needs some clearing up, here is the beginnings of a spoken-word piece that I have been working on over the last couple days. It could use some editing and more thought/prayer, but for now, I think it will serve to make some solid declarations of truth that each of us need to consider on a deeper level. It is my prayer that this currently untitled poem would serve to awaken your hearts and call each of you to action, as The Spirit is in the process of doing within my own heart.

There is a danger that looms when passion turns passive, no longer willing to be active. Apathy entrenched hearts; acidic. Burning holes into the foundations of belief, because when we become “Chief”, roll up our sleeves, and make it about “me”, there is no room for He. He that created that with which we’re infatuated; heartbeat escalated, adrenaline inflated; we choose fabricated sensation over authentic relation; making ourselves king of the situation. Then, what was once a ‘summer-fling’, has to us, become the ‘real-thing’, but we forgot once again, the covenant’s ring. Divorcing The Truth for a lie, the Holy Spirit cries, while our spirit dies. Because you’ve chosen dope over hope, the feel-good over the REAL Good. Counterfeit bills look and feel real, but they only steal; no real value; no treasury to back them up; may fill the cup, but when it runs empty, will you look up? Too often we’re blind to the depravity of the mind, believing our moral looseness is something behind us, but if we look deep enough, we will find, that it still binds us. Father God, please remove the blinds. Open their eyes that they may see, everything You keep showing me. That in order to be free, we must flee to Thee. We think of surrender as an act of cowardice, but surrender to You brings power to the powerless. Under the authority of the Cosmic Champion, we may experience casualties, but will never again follow casually. Considering our losses gain, we will cheer on He who reigns! Relinquishing our ‘rights’ to the right-hand of the Father, we wonder why in the past, with such things, did we bother? Preparations have been made, plans laid, resting in the shade of the Victorious One, The Son. O Truth, come now, suffocate the lies, then breathe Life, that freedom may ring,  and hearts and souls may sing, “Glory to the King”. And Glory there will be, rays of light so bright, that we will say, “woe is me!” But teach us to crave that day, to pray on our knees and wait, trusting You not to delay. Bring deliverance for the oppressed, place the oppressor under arrest. You will bring justice to our unjust, I trust this. For the times we lack faith, I pray you’d increase it, that we’d remain unscathed, how you see fit. Faithful servants, forever serving, casting out serpents, belief unswerving, that You will redeem and renew our broken dreams.

One last time….

Friends, Can you handle The Truth?

Can I handle The Truth?

Will it change us from the inside-out, or will a cloud of doubt continue to paralyze the growth of the proud?

Self: An Idol?

“When you subtract the religious language, worship is the built-in human reflect to put your hope in something or someone and then chase after it. You hold something up and then give your life to pursuing it. If you live in this world, then sooner or later you grow some assumptions concerning what your life is about, what you should really be going after. And when you begin to align your life with that pursuit, then, whether you realize it or not, you are worshiping.” (Kyle Idleman)

The past few days have been interesting, to say the least. God has been slowly, patiently teaching me lessons about myself. I have learned that I desire other’s approval and love more than God’s, which will ultimately never satisfy to any degree. For a moment, it may provide a confidence boost, but at the end of the day, you need to hear once again that you are good enough. The truth is that when consumed by your every flaw, the kind words of others make little to no impact anyways, because you begin to idolize your perception of yourself. Think about it. To the altar of self, we sacrifice our very own joy and contentment, comparing ourselves to people we were never designed to be in the first-place. Blinded by our own misconceptions, we place no emphasis on how the LORD sees us (a dangerous place to be). And the thoughts of others, no matter how potentially positive they may be, will do nothing to improve your self-image. They will more likely take your day for a nose-dive when someone accidentally slips a mention of one of your flaws.

The danger of being consumed by the raging fires of self is not limited to the destruction of your personal well-being, it also directly affects the relationships you have with others. When everything is about oneself, there is no room for the “other”. Therefore, in a state of self-centered thinking, our interactions will bear little fruit. You will find that in your reactions with others, you are spending the majority of your time attempting to steal the spotlight, fishing for compliments, pity, congratulations, etc. and focusing so little, perhaps not at all, on the other individual.

At the top of this post, I placed a quote from Kyle Idleman, author of “Not A Fan” and “gods at war”. Take a minute to go back and read it carefully. I would like to argue that often we place our hope in ourselves. We pursue the success of self, the glorification of self, and feed the god of pleasure in order to satisfy self. In doing so, we say, “Hey God, love what you’re doing and all, but let’s keep it at arm’s length and not let it affect my comfort, way of life, and ideology behind what is best for me, because after all, that’s what the world is supposed to revolve around, right? Me.”  Consider for a moment what you spend the majority of your time worrying about and taking care of. Is it the LORD’s will for your life, the well-being of others, the less-fortunate? Is it others-oriented at all? If not, you are the god of your own heart. Why? You have placed your faith in yourself, chased after satisfying yourself, and ignored, or at least forgotten, the LORD, and His rightful position as King in your life.

If you rob Christ of the throne in the throne-room of your heart, you are ultimately robbing yourself of joyous contentment. In the same way, friends, when comparing yourself to others (what you are typically doing when focused on self in the first-place, trying to catch up to ‘the Jones’ as my father would say), you are not doing yourself a favor. Comparing oneself to others leads down two paths; prideful arrogance of being “better”, or distraught, depression of being “lesser”. We must not inflict such self-destructive thinking upon ourselves.

Friends, do not allow yourself to be your worst enemy. Stop worshiping the idol of self and return your eyes to Christ. It is there that you will find your identity, wholly redeemed by a perfect King that desires nothing more than your full restoration, to bring Himself glory, and to restore your unhindered fellowship with Him. Walk with me into the unbridled joy of living solely for the LORD and in doing so, being focused on the well-being of others. Take a look at the beauty of God’s creation. If He can sustain all that abounds in this world, then He should have no problem sustaining you.

The Coliseum

There is a faint rumbling in the air, as you walk up the the long road. You’ve been walking a long while now…feet aching, thirsty, a bit disgruntled, but despite the many offerings to sit and rest a while, or turn back, you have willed yourself forward, step by step. A small, yet powerful voice, has beckoned you forward, “Persevere, my child.” Many promises have been your hope and source of strength. Having died to yourself, living in a scandalously selfless life, among a culture of self-focused individuals. You have stood out among the rest.

A breeze picks up and with it, the applause of what sounds like thousands, resonates in your ears…

You must be nearing your destination…

Having stood out among your peers, the world has constantly looked at you with hungry eyes. This is to say that there has always been constant attention paid to the things you’ve said, written, and done; measuring up the faith spoken and shared, with the actual life lived. Along the path, you’ve fallen. Tripped up in the weeds and pricked by the thorny-roses of lust, greed, pride, and anger, you have indeed bled.

Many are walking the opposite direction, bumping into you with disgust, informing you that you’re heading the wrong way. “You should have made a right turn onto Career Avenue,” a stranger chides. Another insists, “why didn’t you take the relationship detour back in high-school city?” questioning your innocence in the not-so-naive world surrounding.

Despite all their tenacity, insistence, and beckoning with alternative options, the still small, yet powerful voice resumes its’ plea, “Persevere, my child.” Comforted by its’ strength, you continue against all odds, toward the direction of the voice; your north-star.

-Is that thunder?- you wonder, as powerful waves of voices, perhaps cheers, become increasingly clear.

The scars from the pasts’ falls, thorns, and painful relationships are evident on your body. Perspiration drips from your hair, as you’ve been walking a long time now. However, there will be no stopping. A new wave of strength is sent through you, as if some magnificent force, other than yourself, is giving you the needed energy to continue and then the voice says, “I am with you.” With confidence, you begin to run. You can see it. The Coliseum.

The Coliseum is massive; an architectural masterpiece, with no artistic element overlooked. High arches, sturdy columns, and rising up high into the clouds; one can see why it would be named ‘The Kingdom’. This is no ordinary football stadium, or Gladiator arena. No teams will be playing here today. In fact, the entire gathering; multitudes of every race, color, ethnicity, and language is here to be with and praise one name. Whether in their homelands, He has been referred to as “Jesus”, “Messiah”, “Yeshua”, “Prince of Peace”, “King of Kings”, or any other variation of a name so powerful that when asked by Moses to state who He was, He could say, “I Am. I Am.” Quite simply, He is. God.

You’ve broken the threshold of the world and are now sprinting, full-speed ahead. Every burden, hindrance, and defect that has ever held you back, or led to heart-broken tears is suddenly washed clean, as everyone sprints toward the coliseum in brilliant white.

It’s deafening. The noise you had heard many years back down the road, carried in on a drift of wind by the spirit, perhaps in a worship-service, has now culminated into the ultimate worship experience. The multitudes have gathered to sing, dance, praise, fellowship, and rejoice the One whom laid down His Son’s life for them, that they may experience this life. The fullness of life in the Spirit, with Christ. Never have you been more overwhelmed by unspeakable joy, nor redeemed from every troublesome distraction than you are now in this very moment.

O the magnificence of His presence! How mysterious the brilliance of His creation! Every heavy conversation, troubling addiction, uncomfortable situation, now worth it, as you look around and see the people who reached out to you at one point when you were heading the wrong direction on the road, or had stopped too long for “a break”. They greet you with smiles, rejoicing in the fruit of their obedience. “Praise God,” you all agree, embracing, as the praise continues. Another brother and another sister run up to you and embrace you, thanking you for having gripped their hearts in the wake of their darkest hour, willing to climb down into the pit of their sin, and using the Spirit’s strength to break them free. “By His strength, we’ve risen from the grave!” Oh yes…the sweetness of victory in the name of Savior, Jesus.

Final Remarks:

“The Coliseum” is simply my futile attempt to capture the beauty of what is to come in a few mere words. Regardless the actual setting, or sequence of events, that is to come, according to His promises and laid out plans in Scripture, one thing is certain: It will be beautiful, magnificent, and praiseworthy. It will all have been worth it!

A recurring theme within my heart and the products of it, is the concept of awakening. Consider this an extension of that. The call being to STAY AWAKE. “Persevere, my child,” as the wait and endurance necessary is worth it. Have you counted the costs? Oh yes, that is very necessary and to some, the costs appear to be too much. However, I pray that hearts and eyes would be opened that such lies are not the case at all.

With Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (the good-news of the Gospel), you and I have essentially been handed the keys to freedom from the shackles to sin, fear, and a plethora of other fallen-world antics. Shall we remain chained? Or shall we emerge from the grave, having died to ourselves and being brought back to the fullness of life through the grace and strength of the LORD? It’s your call, friends…But the voice is calling, “Persevere, my child….come to me.”

“O the weariness of a heavy soul. For what purpose has one attempted to lay hold the burdens of the world solely? Lay it all at His feet. Rise up, O God. Scoop up Your peoples in the palm of Your hand and remind the world that we are Yours. Let us revel in Your presence! Let us bring down the coliseums with the thunderous, deafening, praise that is lifted up from redeemed children.”

Brothers and sisters in Christ, There is little room for timidity. A broken world cries out for its’ Redeemer and you KNOW HIM! With deep love, humility, and discernment, share His name boldly. Live freely from fear, brethren, and continue taking steps down the road, towards ‘the coliseum’ of His promises!

Rally

I’ll pay the price for staying up late and writing this tomorrow but I’m highly motivated and feel it is necessary to write to my peers this evening. Hopefully what I have to say will be an encouragement and a challenge to you! Recently, I’ve filled up a journal that I’ve been keeping for the past 2 years and I’ve taken the time to look back through some of my entries and see the maturing of my heart and the maturing of my closer friends’ hearts. You would be absolutely amazed if you knew my heart about 3 years ago compared to now. I have gentlemen like Wade Keltner and Josh Williams (my Freshmen Connection leaders), Chris Halvorson (Men’s Bible Study Leader in Olathe),  Jason Reynolds, and countless other men that I’ve looked up to throughout my earlier college years to thank for that development! These men, along with the leaders of Student Mobilization and Navigators, have taken it upon themselves to disciple and encourage me through the ups and downs of my freshmen and sophomore years and now as a junior in my fourth year at K-State it is my turn to carry on the legacy of making disciples of the upcoming generation of men.

So, why would I choose to write about this? Well, because I cannot do it alone! If there is anything that I have learned during my college-education, it is that there is strength in numbers! The absolute only reason that I’ve managed to stick to the straight and narrow over the last couple years of my life is due to the countless brothers and sisters in Christ encouraging me during the hard times and challenging me to pursue holiness in every facet of my life. This must continue! It must continue in my life, your life, and our peers desperately need it as well (they just may not know it yet). Otherwise, we are dangerously close to being swept away in the powerful current of the raging river that is our culture. And if you’ve read earlier posts, then you’re well aware of my stance on our culture. It’s filthy, broken, sexualized, and filled with debauchery, drunkenness, and pride. As Christians, we MUST live lives that are counter-cultural. Should we choose to lead lives that are stained by the darkness of sin, then how can we shine brightly in a way that resembles the true and resilient beauty of Christ?!?!

We must remind ourselves daily that as we walk to class, speak with our peers in the locker rooms, interact with professors, and even joke with other brothers and sisters in the faith, that we may be the only example of Jesus that anyone has in their lives. That’s a huge responsibility! We are ambassadors for the coming of our LORD and Savior! As you take these things into consideration, I would encourage you to seek Christ in everything you do. Spend time in His Word, in prayer, and in fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ that are dedicated to keeping you strong.

This brings me to my main point. Da’ T.R.U.T.H. recently released a new track (song) titled, “The Whole Truth” and one of my favorite lines of the song is, “Something supernatural happens when the saints rally!” Think about it…when believers in the LORD band together in prayer, fellowship, and service and have authentic, loving hearts, what obstacle could not be overcome? Faith small as a mustard seed can move mountains! What if…the faith of a few faithful on campus banded together and those seeds actually blossomed into vines that bear fruit! What if…you personally dedicated a few minutes of your time daily to pray over the campus you attend? I wonder what would happen if hundreds of broken hearts were crying out to God and seeking out revival on this campus. God has told believers for millenniums that we have little faith in His ability to provide.

Now if faith small as a mustard seed can move a mountain, don’t you think it would be capable of moving the mountains of people’s stubborn hearts? I am 100% certain that God has the power to change hearts. He’s changed mine.

Allow me to illustrate things in terms of baseball since it’s a sport that I spent at least 10 of my younger years playing. Imagine yourself sitting in the dugout on the Visitor’s bench. The home-team has taken the field and it’s the top of the 9th. Your team has one more shot at overcoming the lead of the opposing team, so the captain of the team places his cap on backwards and proclaims, “Rally caps everyone! This is it! We’re going to proclaim victory over the home team now!” Are you drawing the parallels? As believers in Christ, we are no longer of this world but citizens of Heaven, and therefore visitors of this world for only a short-time, as we have eternal citizenship in the Kingdom to come. The world already has a head-start and currently has the lead, as millions of hearts are lost, thousands of “Christians” live out lukewarm lives, and Satan knocks our brothers off the narrow path. BUT the game isn’t over yet! There’s still the top of the 9th to be played!

Fellow citizens of the household of Christ, I am calling you to join with me and to put on your rally caps! Stand firm in your relationship with Christ, seek the Holy Spirit’s will in prayer, serve your Father in Heaven by serving your peers, lift them up and do not tear them down as the world tears down its own already. Of course, you cannot do this on your own. That’s what the Body is for! That’s why we need to rally! So…will you join the rally? Will you pray over our campus? Will you live out a life that is above reproach? Will we be the generation that witnesses the revival of college campuses across the nation? Only time will tell, but I’m choosing to believe that it is certainly possible if we rally together and place our faith and trust in something far greater than ourselves!