Decisions, Decisions (2 Years Sober)

There comes a time in everyone’s lives where they have to make a decision. To pursue a promotion, to marry the girl, to hit the gym more, to find a new church, to invest more in family, to drink less, or maybe even…to stop looking at porn. Some decisions are easier than others, but nevertheless it is the man that has the courage to make the decision and see it through that is brave. Not the one that excuses himself from trying on the basis of habit, indifference, and lack of thought-out trajectory. For every man will be held accountable for the lives they have lived, even if they have not really lived at all.

Brave isn’t exactly an adjective that my friends would have used to describe me growing up. It’s probably not one many would use to describe me now, but perhaps that is because they don’t know my whole story. I’d argue I’m far braver than I’ve ever been (even though I still let out a yelp when I see a spider crossing the bedroom floor in our apartment while I’m stretching). Thanks to Brene Brown’s “The Gifts Of Imperfection” and “Daring Greatly”, Doug Weis’ “Steps To Freedom”, Steven Furtick’s “Unqualified”, Mark Batterson’s “Chase The Lion” and a community of men at my church committed to pursuing purity and excellence in all they do, I have found myself more vulnerable, known, and loved than I’ve ever been in my entire life. I admit when I’m scared. I call my wife when I’ve messed up. I openly cry on the phone with other men and seek the Lord in prayer for their redemption and for mine. I scheduled a meeting with a pastor I respect about pursuing a dream and found myself humbled. Is it a dream or is it a whim – is it the pure love for the process or the glamour of the end-result?

“Embrace the process,” they said as I entered a 12-Step program in the late Fall of 2016 to wage war against a battle that had ravaged my soul for probably as many years. 12 steps for the 12+ years that I’d allowed my heart, mind, soul, and body to be pillaged by the enemy. Allowing him to plant seeds of doubt and insecurity all throughout. I was worthless, a monster, mean, unlovable, ugly, needy – that’s what satan told me I was anyways. And I believed him. I believed him far more than I believed I was worth loving.

I hated the process. The process was hard. The flashbacks were painful. The spiritual warfare was uncomfortable and terrifying. I wanted freedom and the enemy didn’t want me to have it. He’d convince me to tell half-truths; that social-media like Snapchat and Instagram wasn’t “that bad” – that some stories were better left untold. The process taught me that all of this was untrue. Not only untrue but that it made things all the more painful. But it was also, just part of the process.

Addiction is such a painful thing. I have so much empathy for anyone else that’s ever struggled with a sex addiction, drug addiction, alcoholism, or whatever it is that you may struggle with. Mommy issues. Daddy issues. Insecurity issues. Money problems. Power struggles. These all sound like generalizations and lazy attempts to relate, but I just have so much love for anyone that struggles with anything.

Did I mention that I hated the process? I wanted to be free from the addiction – to stop searching for content that created the high I was looking for. I wanted to stop hiding behind humor and the escapism of other things. Looking back on my struggles, I see where I struggled the most was ownership and the lie that I was always a victim. “I’m impulsive and a creature of habit” I told myself, so somehow that made it “okay” if I slipped up every now and then.

I remember two “turning-points” throughout my experience with addiction-recovery. One came when I had to confess my social-media relapse to my wife. I’d been following accounts I should’t have been for reasons that I knew were wrong. Owning this mistake and recognizing that some restrictions (like deleting Instagram/Snapchat) were healthy for my development. I no longer look at them as a punishment for wrongs done but more like wearing my seat-belt every day when I’m driving – it’s just safer that way. The other turning point was the completion of Steps 4 (Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves) and Step 5 (Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human-being the exact nature of our wrongs). Up to that point in my life I don’t think I’d ever been more honest with myself. It is so easy to see the mistakes other people make and ridicule them but it is far harder to hold yourself to a similar standard. Even more difficult when you allow yourself to remember the wrongs you’ve committed and instead of hiding them away or numbing the pain with a drink or a movie, you write them down on paper to ask God for forgiveness and to share them with someone else. The man I chose to share my Step 5 with quickly become a member of my inner-circle. I trust him, I love him, I respect him; that level of vulnerability and strength gave birth to a friendship I’m very thankful for.

It was around the point that the friendship blossomed and that I admitted to myself and to Jesus just how much I needed Jesus to change my heart and my life that everything changed. I told my wife everything – even the “not-that-bad” social-media stuff. I deleted the accounts (or started wearing my seat-belt every day, so to speak). And I decided to walk in integrity and truth the rest of the days of my life. I’m honest to a fault. So honest it hurts; but I’m my whole self, all the time, and I’m no longer hiding my heart behind a screen. No longer suffocating under the weight of “being found out”- no longer living in the constant, continuous fear of satan’s whisper.

I am known and loved. I am faithful and supported. I am uniquely gifted and outrageously normal in the same breath. I am humbled and observant. Ready and cautious.

I am also just days away from 2 years of sobriety, by God’s immense power and grace.

I am more alive than I ever was; freer than I ever thought I was while “living in freedom” to the whims of the flesh.

I am truly free. All because I decided; to do something, to go somewhere, to talk to the friend, to ask for help.

We will all face the day where we need to make a decision. Will you have the courage? Will you be brave enough to make it? I’m praying it’ll be a little easier for you, because I was brave enough to tell you I had to do it too.

Sign_Recovery_next_exit

 

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

Relying On Him

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I mean, seriously. How?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

tunnel

The Solution

Twinkling lights, evening air

Flower petals landing in hair.

Laughter ensues, conversations grow

The love of others seemingly glows.

Radiant beauty, life created

There is so much God has demonstrated.

 

The coffee is strong and honey, sweet

There are so many hearts to meet

Right where they are, on the streets, broken

Behind smile facades, tears are chokin’

Life seems distant, Life seems far

That’s why you spend endless nights in the bar.

 

No matter how much ‘liquid courage’

Instead you end up distraught, discouraged

 

Friends assure you these times will pass

Yet pain, once again, over hope, shall surpass.

 

What is your hope in?

Where are you copin’?

 

How can someone so dead inside come to bear life?

Where can one run from their painful strife?

 

So many things promise alleviation

Yet somehow are simply deviations

From the root issue which must be mentioned

If you want your heart freed from Satan’s detention.

 

So why sit here and keep pretending

That your way will start trending.

Maybe if you tweet and update

Your problems will somehow resituate.

 

That doesn’t seem to do the trick

Let me offer something real quick…

 

What if you stopped trying

And started denying

Your ability to stop crying?…

 

What if you were to fully surrender;

Wave your white flag and did not hinder

The power of Christ from overcoming

All the sinful things you’ve been becoming?

 

What if for once, God was God

And you were not?

 

Perhaps the strongest action you can take

Is admitting your weakness and past mistakes…

 

Give it a chance; at least one day

Fall to your knees, cry out, and pray.

I know your hearts empty and skies are grey

But God’s compassion is real and won’t delay.

 

Time is of the essence and this poem must end

In the meantime I’ll pray for your hearts to mend.

Father, send out Your Holy Spirit and angels in Power;

Take back this dark nation and let Your mercy shower

Upon those whom revere the Word of Your Son

And to Your arms, like young children, do run.

First Love

I can still remember the day I laid eyes on You

My heart skipped a beat as I knew you were True.

With a spirit of tender love, and selflessness

Opposing Your captivating beauty, I was helpless.

Whenever in Your arms I found rest.

Through borrowed strength; I could withstand any test.

With eyes on You, I could climb any mountain

Our relationship grew deeper than any well or fountain…

I can still remember the day I left You

Wouldn’t admit it, but on came ‘the blues’

Depression lingered despite numerous views

Thought pleasures of this world could amuse…

I drank and drank the world’s Kool-Aid 

Made me happy for a minute but was only a band-aid

That delayed the reality of deep, hurting pain

Dry and desolate in need of cleansing rain.

I can still remember the day I returned

Ashamed and eyes filled with tears; they burned

Thought certainly I had lost You for good

Instead you proposed to me with arms wide-open; hands nailed on wood.

“Welcome to my family, child, you’re the Church, my Bride

It’s time to lift your veil; you no longer need to hide…”

You see, I’m loved; bruises and all

And I’m lifted up, every time I fall

Not a single need that can’t be met

As a fisher of men; He fills my net.

The purpose of my life has been revealed

And my scars are continually healed

It’s so great to be refocused on things above;

Christ, the King of Kings, is and forever will be, my first love.


All Talk. No Walk. Tick-Tock.

Verbally professing one’s faith is absolutely essential to the continuation of the Great Commission, as well as shining the light of Christ into a very dark and sinful world. Without people preaching the Word of God, sharing their testimonies, and studying Scripture with one another, no one would be fed the living bread they need to stay alive and Christianity would go extinct. So if you are bold and courageous enough to take heed to Romans 1:16 and are unashamed of your faith and you are fulfilling the commission Jesus gave all of us in Matthew 28:18-20 then THANK YOU! From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your service in this area.

Now, with this being said, there is a certain issue within Christian spheres that I would like to shine some light on. Before I continue, keep in mind that this is a plea and a press towards righteousness and is in no way a form of condemnation, nor am I saying that I have perfected this in my own life. That disclaimer being said, let’s proceed.

I’ve yet to meet a Christian who did not want to talk about what they believe in. We are a people of fellowship, always wanting to discuss theology, doctrine, and how we perceive Jesus Christ and Scriptural truth. However, I’ve been challenged recently by witnessing some of the projects the youth of Olathe East High School’s FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) have been working on. Lars Hanson (Lars Hanson Testimony), a teenager seeking to graduate from high school, is a leader within the group of young individuals and I am deeply moved by his service, testimony, and ability to teach from God’s Word. It’s young men like him that remind me why youth ministry is so awesome and moving. My love for youth ministry aside, these students have put into ACTION the things they’ve been learning. By serving the community around them, praying within the school’s four walls, leading teammates to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and much more.

Shouldn’t this spur us on? I’m a 21-year-old and I think my faith can often pale in comparison to the faith mentioned above and in my previous blog “Selfless” where I talk about the faith and servant’s heart of Jed who wants to be a missionary. I believe this should certainly fuel the fire for the older generation of believers to take steps of faith and to MOVE; to take action and to move mountains for the LORD.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)

So will you join me in taking action? Men, we are called to lead, to stand up for what is right. Those who know the good they ought to do and don’t do it, sin (James 4:17). Therefore I challenge you and I challenge myself to man up and to meet the call of the Lord on our lives; to serve wholeheartedly, love unconditionally, and to live counter-cultural lives of humility, submitting to the authority of the Lord and living in reverent fear of our Heavenly Father. We must constantly remember who it is that we serve.

“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” (Isaiah 40:25-26)

Time is running out brethren. Life is “but a breath” and before you know it, your friends, coworkers, classmates, family members, and many others will be dying before your eyes, having never seen the Gospel of Christ actively shown to them within your life and the lives of other “believers”. So, will you change this trend? Will you begin to profess your faith more boldly? Will you not only verbally share the message of freedom in Christ but also display it to others by the life you live out?

Tick-tock…..tick-tock….tick-tock……….this is an urgent matter. Time is running out! Praying for you brothers and sisters in the faith!

Warrior

“The only possible attitude toward out of control desire is a declaration of all out war…I hear so many Christians murmuring about their imperfections and their failures and their addictions and their shortcomings…and I see so little war! Murmur…murmur…murmur…why am I this way? MAKE WAR!” (John Piper)

This quote is the intro to Tedashii’s music video “Make War” which can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuYbkGAY_wU I highly suggest watching it prior to reading the rest of this note as you will be able to see what has been heavily influencing my heart recently.

Friends, brothers, sisters, and foes alike…I, Justin Meyer, am tired of hiding. I am so sick and tired of not being strong enough to claim victory over all sins. Whether they be physical, mental, spiritual, etc. You would not believe the number of times over the course of this semester that I have looked myself in the mirror and told myself that I wasn’t worth it. I’d look into the eyes of a 21-year-old man, overweight, unsuccessful, immature, and so…so undeserving. The truth is that I don’t deserve anything. I’m an American fortunate enough to have grown up in the upper middle class of society, putting me in a position to have some of the most elite opportunities in the world like a college education. But that doesn’t mean that I deserve anything.

I’ll tell you the truth…when I stood there looking in that mirror. I wanted to break it. I wanted to drive my fist into the glass and watch as the pieces shattered to the ground. However, realizing that this would lead to a trip to the emergency room and a bill from Housing and Dining, I opted out :)….but I did end up back in my room in tears. THANKFULLY and by the grace of God I have been blessed with INCREDIBLE friends who in this moment came to my rescue in prayer and words of encouragement, affirmation, and prophecy that STILL baffles my mind. I’m having difficulty believing everything that was said. But that’s an entire other story on its own…

As you can tell, I’m a broken man. I am NOTHING. I have NOTHING. I deserve NOTHING. What an incredible depressing story, right?…..WRONG! This is where things get crazy!

No matter how pitiful I look in the mirror. No matter what a terrible son I may be. No matter how pathetic of a sibling I’ve been, or the fact that I am incredibly selfish and not always there for my friends. God STILL LOVES ME!

1 John 4:7-12, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

This verse illustrates the INCREDIBLE love that the Lord has for me, you, and the rest of the world and it brings tears of joy to my eyes when I read this passage!

Excuse me for lack of flow…I’m writing this late at night while the Holy Spirit is heavy on my heart. But back to my original point of being tired of not claiming victory over sin and looking in the mirror at a broken man. Here’s the good news and I hope that if you have read this far, it will encourage you like crazy!

After attending Navigators tonight I spent a good deal of time meditating on the words in Romans, chapter 6, I HIGHLY SUGGEST READING THIS. As I read these words of scripture, although I’ve read it before, it was as if I was seeing the words for the first time! They seemed to come alive on the page and reach out crying for me to linger on their every meaning!

Brothers and Sisters, we are DEAD to sin! It NO LONGER has dominion over you! The blood of the Lamb has washed you clean, as you are presented as holy and blameless before the Throne of God! While we are dead to sin, we are made ALIVE in Christ! You no longer have to live a life in paralyzing fear as so many in our generation continue to do. So family, let’s RISE UP against sin! Let’s claim our victory over Satan and bring the LORD’s Kingdom to this incredibly broken world…

Family, The King has set you FREE! It is my earnest and continual prayer that you would not go crawling back to your previous master, sin. May you claim your inherent sonship and become a co-heir with Christ! The catch is that this is not going to be easy. I know from personal experience that every stride I’ve taken towards the throne of the Lord has been met by incredible opposition from the Devil. We MUST band together and become brothers and sisters at arms. We MUST become a city on our knees, crying out for the Lord’s power and Sovereignty.

I’m done being scared. I’m done being a boy. I’m ready to man up. I’m ready to put on the full armor of God and go sprinting full force into the agonizing battle that our world is in with sin! I’m ready to be a Warrior! I’m ready to shine brightly for the Lord in the darkest places in the nation and in the world.

I have two questions to ask you:

1) Will you join me and be my brother/sister in this epic battle against Satan, giving your ENTIRE LIFE to the Lord in order to claim your victory in Him?

2) Will you pray for me?…Because I need it desperately. This semester and my life in general has been hard enough as it is. But I just straight up declared war on the Devil. Things are about to get crazy…PLEASE pray for me and those who are brave enough to join this fight!